Camille Claudel – a tragic gem of an artist

You might think this delicate sculpture, La Valse, was the work of the celebrated French sculptor Auguste Rodin but….it’s not.

Camille Claudel was the lover and muse of Rodin and a skilled craftswoman in her own right. She arrived at Rodin’s workshop at the tender age go 19 – this was to be the making, and breaking of her.

Initially she was his apprentice – a rare experience for women during the 19th Century and later collaborated directly with him yet never reached the heights of Rodin’s fame and acceptance into high society.

Their partnership went on for many years which inspired both of them artistically and their artistic styles are very similar. She was responsible for the modelling of the hands and feet of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais – one of the most famous pieces of his work.

Despite her clear skill she was incarcerated in a mental asylum by her diplomat brother. She had taken to destroying her own works, accusing Rodin of stealing her ideas she was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Despite this, when working on her art she was clear headed. It is believed that Claudel’s brother fabricated the reasoning for her admittance to the asylum and on the forms it is noted that she voluntarily admitted herself – this is not the case. Those that visited her said that her brother, Paul, was himself mad for having shut away such a genius.

She died in relative obscurity and has only, posthumously found the acclaim that she so rightly deserved within her own lifetime.



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