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Monday, 9 February 2009

Camille Claudel, Muse and Legend - An Heroic Life?


Once again, mes braves, I am staying with the heroes and heroines in our lives thematic approach... This is Hera above.

The theme of what constitutes heroes and heroines, and who are our heroes, might be something I choose to return to from time to time... Hope you're okay with that? And my apologies in advance as this is a little long today, so I have decided to save half until tomorrow - The pictures, I think, make it appear longer, in any case...

It seems to me that in our history, we had some everyday heroes, such as Nelson, and perhaps Churchill - because the media and press weren't so much 'in our face' as they are today. It was easier to control the media then when there was less of it... When news and information, gossip and rumour, could not be found at the click of a mousie! At those points in history, it might have been easier to have held people closer to our hearts, to have plucked their image from a news sheet, and pasted it into an album, their thoughts and deeds keeping us warm on wintry evenings, simply because we didn't know all that there was to know about them...

Once we know their flaws, their Achilles' Heels - That they bite their toenails, for example, how easy is it then to hold their better deeds close to our hearts?

In this vein, I do not include those personal heroes, those who are known and much loved to us - The people I am loving you telling us about - Your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, courageous friends and wonderful acquaintances...

Back to the ramble - and wasn't it the proud and imperious Mr Darcy, channelled by Jane Austen, who said:

"My good opinion once lost, is lost forever... "

I quoted from Protege's comments yesterday, and do so once again today. She said, "Those who maintain...who can achieve what they wanted, whatever it is, just by keeping at it...it's so rare".

This could sum up my artistic heroine, Camille Claudel, almost entirely...Photobucket

Photobucket You may, or may not be aware, but Camille's story has been more or less hidden in the clay-spattered aprons of time... Perhaps her family wanted it that way... Camille was born, close to my own birthday in fact - I hadn't recalled that before now, on 8 December 1864, and was the older sister of the French poet and diplomat, Paul Claudel.

Camille was said to be entranced by stone and soil as a child... At this point, I'm dipping my head and entering the low stone portal of the Goddess Wiki, where else??! "as a young woman she studied with sculptor, Alfred Boucher. (At the time, the École des Beaux-Arts barred women from enrolling to study.)" Aah, did it now..., why am I not suprised?

"In 1882, Claudel rented a workshop with other young women, who were mostly English, including Jessie Lipscomb. In 1883, Camille met Auguste Rodin, who taught sculpture" to developing young talents in his studio in Paris.

Photobucket In or around 1884, Camille began to work alongside Rodin, learning from him and perhaps teaching him some things. ~ For years she merited his attentions, she was his muse, his confidante and his lover. Rodin, of course, was all this time married to Rose Beuret, mother of his son.


There are all kinds of rumours about Camille - That she had two children with Rodin. She had an accident in which she lost his child... She had to terminate a pregnancy of his child...

No-one can be certain, and records have been misted over with cobwebs and probably sources have been tampered with by well-meaning friends and relatives - Who among us really knows what passes between two lovers?


And wasn't it Charlotte Bronte herself who threw sister Emily's second novel into the flames of the fire in the parlour in Haworth?!

Photobucket Camille's family never came to terms with her indiscretion, nor her love of a profession which was not entirely deemed seemly for one of her station in life... In 1892, Claudel ended her relationship with Rodin, although they saw one another regularly until 1898.

In 1903, she merited a headline exhibition at one of the famed Parisian salons... She was Rodin's muse, and influenced, to my mind, softened elements of his art and sculpture... She was a very talented sculptress in her own right; The famous art critic Octave Mirbeau wrote she was "A revolt against nature: a woman genius".

"Her early work is similar to Rodin's in spirit, but shows an imagination and lyricism quite her own, particularly in the famous Bronze Waltz (1893). The Age of Maturity (1900), whilst interpreted by her brother as a powerful allegory of her break with Rodin, with one figure The Implorer that was produced as an edition of its own, has also been interpreted in a less purely autobiographical" way, as a powerful testament to pain, suffering and longing. The lone figure outstretches her arms, beseeching someone out of vision to enfold her, to love her...

Photobucket Camille came to Rodin's studio when he was working on the famous, Gates of Hell and The Burghers of Calais. She is probably the model used for the three female forms at the top of the gates. "The two artists had a mutual influence on one another; her Jeune Fille à la Gerbe of 1887 was a precursor of Rodin’s Galatea, and the Three Female Fauns are the inspiration for the female figures Claudel’s La Vague".



Diane said...

The sculptures are really beautiful! You always teach me something, dear Fhina :).

And thank you, thank you SO much for your generous donation to the Breast Cancer fund!! I was thrilled to see your name on the list and I appreciate it, and YOU, so much!!! XOXO

Ann's Rants said...

Dear Fhina,

Thank you so much for always leaving such kind and supportive comments on my posts. It honestly helps keep me going to have such thoughtful readers. You should lecture on these posts. Really, when I read them I imagine you speaking to a university classroom. I hear them out loud...

French Fancy said...

What an unsung heroine she was and so talented as well. The way women were just slung into these asylums at that time and indeed later was so terrible. Ever since reading that Maggie O'Farrell book - the Esme Lennox one - that deals with this subject, I've found out so much about the lack of women's rights at this time. It makes for shocking reading.

Lovely images of the sculptures and a good reminder of an afternoon we spent at the Rodin Musée

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Diane - I checked out what you will be doing on that event - Walking more than 20 miles each day - Eek! You inspire me, you must know that - even in spite of your insanitary arrangements just now, and once I am back on my own feet, just watch me! I want to do a walk here in aid of Breast Cancer, and have talked about it for a couple of years - I have every intent to do it now in the summer! My love to you x

Ann: Hello, how are things? You are so kind! I was thinking, you know, about why I am putting those bits of myself here - I always wanted to be a teacher, but have got over that, and I work in Education Policy now anyway... My teenage son is in no way interested in my eclectic, catholic and arts-oriented tiny mind; So storing things here is like having my own little museum, where I can place those elements of me, art and people, that I have enjoyed falling in love with, and finding out more about...

I really hope it doesn't get too boring for anyone still reading it!!!

Perhaps I will join the Women's Institute when I am grey(er!) and retired, only to bore them all rigid! LOL x

A Woman Of No Importance said...

FF: Glad you have visited with chere Camille - Yes, there are surely echoes, as with the lovely Esme Lennox, of 'unsuitable' women being put under lock and key with no-one knowing what exactly to do with them!

Now we just get called eccentric, or Bohemian, or 'as mad as a ship's cat!' as one of my friends puts it...

There is still so much stigma about mental health issues too...sadly, in my humble opinion.

Fifi Flowers said...

LOVED the movie about her!
YOU are RIGHT ON TIME for my birthday.. it is TODAY... my mom's was Saturday.
Thank you for birthday wishes and NO your but does not look big... you look great!
ENJOY your day!

Rab said...

What a wonderful biographical sketch, and delightful photos. Thank you for that!

jinksy said...

The statues are always a joy to see, thanks.

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

I love Camille Claudet....
Thanks, great post with her history entwined.

Steady On
Reggie Girl

malena Sandra said...


A Woman Of No Importance said...

Fif, I wasn't sure how many people might have seen the film and I'm glad you did with all your lovely artistic sensibilities - I just recently bought the DVD - I couldn't get hold of it for so long - So I really must get around to enjoying it again!

Rab: Bless you, as ever!

Midlife Lady: Glad you enjoyed it - Part 2 tomorrow!

Alecs: Glad you liked it, hon!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

what an enlightening post Fhi!

When l'm at work, it takes me ages to catch up with posts, and l'm not off again until thursday....so apologies if you thought I had jumped ship!!

love this theme, and its gonna take me forver to write about mne, but I will!!

I must have loads of posts half written in draft...phew...not enough hours in the day...d yo think they'd notice if l took my laptop to work? I have a mobile broadband dongle, will travel!!
saz xxx

blognut said...

How is that I always leave your blog a little bit smarter than I was when I arrived?

Something I wrote earlier...

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