THE ART OF RODIN AND CLAUDEL
The sculptures of Rodin and Camille Claudel were a constant inspiration while I wrote Paris Kiss and helped immerse me in their world. Here’s a brief introductory guide to the work of these gifted artists.
Along with The Thinker, Rodin’s The Kiss is one of the most famous and best loved sculptures of all time.
Both pieces were originally meant as part of a group of reliefs decorating Rodin’s monumental bronze portal, The Gates of Hell, but became hugely popular in their own right.
The Kiss is one of the most electrifying images of sexual love.
When a bronze version was sent to the 1893 Exposition in Chicago it was considered unsuitable for public display and hidden away in an inner chamber with admission by personal application.
The Thinker, showing an athletic man deep in thought, was originally the crowning element of The Gates of Hell. It represented Dante, author of the Divine Comedy, which inspired The Gates.
The colossal version proved even more powerful and became one of the world’s most celebrated sculptures. You can see The Thinker at The Rodin Museum in Paris and at The Burrell Collection, Glasgow. A cast of The Thinker was placed on Rodin’s tomb.
While Camille Claudel’s work was overshadowed by her more famous lover, Rodin, during her life, she is now recognised as a brilliant sculptor in her own right. You can see her work on display at the Rodin Museum in Paris.
La Valse or The Waltz, one of her earlier works, shows her gift for lyricism and her unique imagination.
It depicts a couple waltzing, and critics at the time thought it was a scandalous subject for a woman artist to tackle. Rodin advised Camille to dress the woman, who was originally nude, to help her get a state commission.
THE AGE OF MATURITY
Another of her sculptures caused shock waves. L’âge mur or The Age of Maturity was interpreted as an allegory of her break with Rodin. A young woman, thought to be Claudel, begs on her knees an older man, thought to Rodin, to stay with her while he is dragged away by a crone, thought to be his long-term mistress, Rose. Claudel insisted it was an allegory about ageing and not about their scandalous love triangle.