Reading a post over at SU with its references to late 19th century sculpture and Rodin made me think of Camille Claudel.
Victorian women were emotionally, socially, physically and politically constricted. If they painted it was meant to be a past time, dainty landscapes certainly not passionate bold experimental art. Camille Claudel (1864-1943) defied the Victorian woman role model she was very transgressive for her time.
Over time her work has been forgotten and her status was reduced to mistress/muse of Rodin (the excellent film Camille Claudel (1988) rehabilitated her work). Her neo-classical influenced style sculptures were eclipsed by Rodin and her work languished in the shadows at the Musee Rodin. And it is only recently her influence has been recognised in the work of Rodin.
Compare Rodin’s The Kiss (1887) to Claudel’s understated Sakuntala (1888) both marble (though Claudel’s marble version of Sakuntala came about in 1905). The Kiss is a piece of erotic and bold scuplture (you used to be able to view it at the Tate Britain though now moved to the Tate in Liverpool).
Claudel’s projects passion yet tenderness. The poignancy of Prince Dushyanta collapsing to his knees when he is confronted with his true love Sakuntala. The same with L’Age Mur (The Age of Maturity) produced in 1894 that represents her personal and emotional turmoil she experienced with Rodin and his commitment to his wife, Rose Beuret.
It tragic, intimate and soulful piece which encapsulates her relationship with Rodin. Her examples of her fine beautifully carved work include The Implorer (1899), The Waltz (1891-1893) and The Flute Player (1904).
Her work deserves equal praise as it is modern, the narrative flows, passionate, bold, stark and has veracity. Unfortunately, because Claudel wouldn’t follow the respectable lifestyle of a Victorian her brother, writer Paul Claudel, got her sectioned under the French mental health act in 1913, she was kept in the asylum until her death.
Even doctors said she wasn’t “mad” but her family refused to acknowledge that diagnosis and her brother forbade his mother and sister to visit her.