Nov 04

Camille Claudel

The Brown Wedge2 comments • 2,926 views

Camille Claudel

I seem to be engaged in a series of appreciations of undervalued artists from a century or so back here (see Bartholdi and af Klint pieces below). I’ll stop after this one, but I do want to mention someone who I think was a great sculptor, and is largely unknown – she doesn’t get an entry in my Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists or The Oxford Companion to Art. Indeed, the latter doesn’t even mention her among the list of Rodin’s assistants – she was his student and lover.

Obviously this explains her neglect. Her style is something like his, and I wouldn’t claim that she was his equal as an artist – but there aren’t many other Nineteenth Century sculptors I like better. Her bust of Rodin is a magnificent work, but it’s her disturbing and undoubtedly disturbed* figures that I find hugely compelling and fascinating, like the one shown here, from 1893.

* she died in an asylum; I’m not trying to valorise this, as that’s a tendency I firmly oppose, that inclination to make mental illness glamorous, so long as it’s an artist. I don’t accept that there is something more essentially tortured in an artist’s life than anyone else’s.


  1. 1
    borgne on 11 Mar 2007 #

    please, say me wath is the name of this sculpture?
    Excuse me for my english!

  2. 2
    Fermín on 12 Aug 2007 #

    Dear Martin,
    nice comment and very nice foto. i’m very keen on camille’s oeuvres d’art. I’m writing here because there’s wrong information about her here. you, as most people do, believe that camille claudel died in an asylum because she was mental. well she was not and there are many letters from the asylum to her family proving that. she was betrayed by her family, mother and sister, for fighting to have a profession, something considered dishonouring to a woman in that time and because of jealousy and envy. her brother paul didn’t help too much because although he knew his sister was not insane he never was so strong to oppose his mother’s cruel desires, not to talk about that bastard called Rodin. When telling this story I (and many people more day by day)am not prettending to say be mental is glamorous or necessary to be an artist. what I’m trying is to let people know the real story of Camille claudel who despite being a genius as his lover Rodin was, had to suffer a lot and died alone because of being born woman. and as she did many other women had similar unfair lives.You can read about george sand, mary shelley’s mother, Zenobia Camprubi, Alma Mahler, Bronte sisters and so on…
    I hope this would be helpful to you to understand the real thing because this historical worlwide accepted mistakes are very very serious. i’m sorry of my english but i’m spanish and manage not very well foreign languages.
    best wishes


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