In October 2013 the Rodin Museum presented an exhibition of twenty-two sculptures of Camille Claudel (1864-1943), including some that had not been on display for several years during the ongoing renovation of the museum.
The exposition’s introductory brochure said that Camille Claudel “has become an almost too familiar figure today: her stormy love affair with Rodin and her long, tragic internment in a mental asylum have often eclipsed her bold, experimental art and her distinguished career.”
Unfortunately photography was not allowed in the exhibition, but some of her works can be seen on the museum’s website — and of course there is one on the exhibition posters and brochure, Les Causeuses (The Gossips), which she created in 1897 using onyx and bronze.
Even after the closing of the special exhibition, the Rodin Museum still has a number of sculptures by Camille Claudel that are on permanent display. In addition, there is a new Camille Claudel museum in Nogent-sur-Seine, 93 km southeast of Paris, which opened in 2017.
At the Rodin Museum bookshop I bought this book about the life and work of Camille Claudel, who was a very talented sculptress in her own right and a tragic figure because her family committed her to an insane asylum for the last thirty years of her life.
In 1988 a notable French film was made about Camille Claudel. It was directed by Bruno Nuytten, co-produced by Isabelle Adjani, and it starred her and Gérard Depardieu. The film was based on a book by Reine-Marie Paris, who also co-authored this more recent book that I bought at the museum. Reine-Marie Paris is the granddaughter of Camille’s brother, the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel, so that would make her the great-niece of Camille Claudel.
I once saw an opera staging that was inspired by Camille Claudel’s fate. It was a production from the year 2000 by the American stage director Chris Alexander at the State Opera in Hannover, Germany, of Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848). In this staging, Lucia did not die at the end, but was secretly committed to an insane asylum by her family. An actress played Lucia as an old woman. She was on the stage throughout the opera, re-living her memories of her traumatic experiences when she was younger. The program booklet included three pages of excerpts from letters that Camille Claudel wrote from the asylum, saying she was unjustly imprisoned and begging for her freedom.
My photos on this post are from 2013. I revised the text in 2017 and 2023.
See more posts on Camille Claudel (1864-1943).
The Rodin Museum is at 79 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris.