Lydia Corbett as told to Elli Jacobs
I was born in Paris in 1934, the middle child between two brothers and of artist parents. My English-born mother was an Impressionist painter and my French father an influential art dealer and painter.
I lived an unconventional childhood; raised on a naturist island. I spent my days in complete freedom, playing in the sea and admiring nature. We were forced to flee during World War II to a community in the eastern mountains of France where I completed my education at an open-minded, art-based primary school and then, at 16, at an archetypal child-centred experimental school. I’ve always been free from constraints and to explore the visionary side of life.
I was never his lover, but I also had no anxiety around him flirting with me.
In the summer of 1953, age 19, I was sitting with my boyfriend Toby on the roof of one of the pottery studios in the small French town of Vallauris, when Pablo Picasso, whose studio was just nearby, opened his gate and invited us over. That was the first time we met.
I remember how there was a beautiful girl there and I thought she was much more sexy and beautiful than me, but Picasso said, “I want to paint Sylvette.” I was delighted and felt very honoured, even though I was a very shy and quiet girl.
That first time I posed for him I just sat in a rocking chair. I was terrified of old men because I was abused as a child, but Picasso was the most charming man and he put me at ease very quickly. Many times he tried to make me giggle, to get me out of my seriousness. He was funny – like a clown, actually – and I loved that.
Source: Brisbane Times
Original publication 18 January, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 17th February 2020
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