La Casa — Camille Claudel

The House — Camille Claudel

Today in our series of portraits on the women of CASA Camille Claudel the one who names our sand color.

Camille Claudel is a French sculptor known for her tumultuous relationship with the sculptor Rodin, who will be her master, lover and torment. Born on December 8, 1864 in Fère-en-Tardenois in France, she discovered her artistic vocation around the age of 12, encouraged by Alfred Boucher and supported by her father. She took an interest in sculpture very early on, more particularly in clay, despite her mother's violent reprobation, a reprobation that would never fade and that Camille would receive with full force on the death of her father.

In 1882, she managed to persuade her family to move to Paris in order to perfect her art. She will take courses there in particular at the Académie Colarossi and will find there the mentorship of Alfred Boucher, who, having to leave Paris for Italy, will ask Rodin to take his place. The following year, Camille will join this new teacher's workshop.

This one is impressed by the talent of Camille and will quickly let him participate in his own works and will admit to consulting her in all things. Very quickly their mutual respect and their complicity turns into passion, which will last ten years, although Rodin refuses to leave his longtime partner and former model, Rose Beuret. This loyalty will arouse many episodes of jealousy in Claudel and will eventually cause their breakup.

However, they will continue their relationship in parallel for nearly 10 years, during which Rodin will make his lover his muse, making many busts of her and taking up her features in allegorical sculptures. He will also be inspired by Camille's sculpture, “The young girl with the wreath” for one of his own sculptures, “La Galatea”.

Claudel's talent and fame grew day by day and in 1888 she won the prestigious Salon Prize for her sculpture "Sakountala" on which she worked for two years. His style begins to become clearer and move away from that of his master. However, Rodin also moved away and ended up leaving her in 1892, while continuing to encourage her work as an artist. Unfortunately for Claudel, this association of his works with those of his ex-lover overshadow him, preventing his artistic emancipation. She will try to distance herself from him by changing in particular the size and materials of her new works. During this time, Rodin continued to give Camille's face to several of his sculptures.

Despite a certain recognition and the intervention of several patrons and promoters such as the art dealer Eugène Blot and the Countess Arthur de Maigret, Camille experienced financial problems, in the absence of orders from the State. Her stubbornness in representing the nude, a typically masculine subject, will necessarily place her on the fringes of society of the time. She then seems to close in on herself and leads a life of solitary scarcity.

It is this withdrawal from conventional society that will be used against her, upon the death of her father in 1913, to institutionalize her, under the diagnosis of 'paranoid dementia'. Her mother having always been opposed to her daughter's career and her very religious brother, frustrated at living in his sister's shadow, decide to place her in a psychiatric asylum 5 days after Mr. Claudel's death.

In 1915, the hospitals being requisitioned for the war, she was transferred to the Monfavet asylum. She will remain there for the 28 years that will remain to her to live, despite her repeated protests. Completely cut off from the world, forbidden to correspond, she will write letters for years that will not reach their recipients or she will claim her freedom, which she will never obtain. She will receive occasional visits (12 in almost 10 years) from her brother and her former lover. She died of malnutrition in Monfavet and ended up in a false commune, no member of her family coming to claim her body.

This tragic fate contributes to the fascination exerted today by Camille Claudel, whose power of works is now more recognized, despite the persistent association of her work with Rodin.

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