Lydia Corbett (née Sylvette David) b. 1934


Lydia Corbett was born in Paris in 1934 to an influential art dealer based in the Champs Elysees, and his wife, a studio potter. At the age of nineteen Lydia had moved to Vallauris in the south of France with her mother who worked at a pottery studio in the town. It was here that she had a chance encounter with Pablo Picasso in 1954, and she went on to be the subject of more than seventy of his portraits.


‘Picasso was a comic, he liked laughing and joking and behaving like a bit of a clown – a clever one.’ ‘I love to paint figures quickly. He taught me a lot’. She would sit for him in an armchair while Picasso painted her in his simple studio, surrounded by many pots. Picasso gave Lydia a huge amount of confidence in herself as a painter, although it was not until she was in her forties that she started to paint, once her children had grown.


Corbett moved to England in 1968 where she pursued her own painting career, presenting twelve solo exhibitions in London. In 1991 she exhibited in Japan, and in the United States of America in 2004. In 2014 an exhibition of her watercolours were shown at Theater Bremen, concurrently with a major exhibition of Picasso’s work inspired by her, ‘Sylvette, Sylvette, Sylvette’ held at the Kunsthalle Bremen. These two exhibitions were the subject of a film produced by ARTE broadcast in England and Germany. Works by Lydia Corbett are in private collections worldwide and are also held in the permanent collections of the Musée National Picasso, Paris  and the Vatican Collection. Solo exhibitions with David Simon Contemporary 2016, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2024.