Brigitte Bardot was the French film star who achieved the greatest national and international acclaim in the late 50s and beyond, from the moment she shot to stardom in Roger Vadim's Et Dieu Créa La Femme in 1956. Her look -- the distinctive sensual pout, big pale blonde hair and dark-rimmed eyes -- rapidly came to define an era.
Richard Avedon perfectly captured her very particular seductive appeal in this study made in Paris in January 1959. Avedon's exposure gives the image a shimmer of movement, while his high key print bleaches her skin to throw her features into even greater prominence. It is hardly surprising that this stylised and striking portrait, with its abstracted emphasis on the iconography of her look, should be the one selected some years later by Andy Warhol as the basis for his silkscreen portraits of Bardot. In appropriating Avedon's original image, Warhol -- ever sensitive to the qualities that make a photograph peculiarly compelling -- paid the photographer the most precious of compliments.