Camille Claudel, born in France in 1864, is beginning to
be accorded more respect for her sculpture, after being
hidden in the looming shadow of August Rodin, best
known for “The Thinker.” Part of a creative clique in
France that included Camille’s brother Paul, who was a
Catholic poet and playwright of note in the late nineteenth
century, Camille was an artist of considerable talent. She
studied with Rodin, becoming his model and mistress.
Their relationship was stormy; the two artists’ tempers
would burn brightly and they were constantly breaking up
and making up, but the relationship endured until 1898.
When her brother Paul abandoned her, she committed
an auto-de-fe. As was typical in that era, Camille was
institutionalized for depression and hysteria starting in
1913, eroding her ability to continue forceful sculpting
until her death in 1943. Anne Delbee’s 1982 play “Une
Femme: Camille Claudel” was the beginning of a revival
of interest in Claudel. Controversially, the play posits
the theory that Camille was more than a muse; indeed,
she was the true artist of the two, infusing Rodin with
creativity and ideas. In 1989, Isabella Adjani and Gerard
Depardieu did a wonderful job of bringing the creative
couple to the big screen. Despite the difficulties of her
last years, Camille Claudel has become a French national sheroine and cause celebre.
View the full blog post here.