A French sculptor, Claudel was the collaborator and mistress of Auguste Rodin, and is considered today to be the last of the great humanist sculptors. She was also the sister of Paul Claudel, one of France's most celebrated poets and playwrights.

Born in Villeneuve-Sur-Fère, France in 1864, Claudel moved with her family to Paris in 1881, where she attended the Colarossi Academy. She was apprenticed to Rodin in 1884 and became his assistant and mistress. From this point on, her work was very much intertwined with his, dealing primarily with portraits and tableaux of groups of contorted figures. The subject matter was primarily allegorical and executed very lyrically and sensitively. However, her best-known piece of work is most likely her portrait of Rodin. During this period she exhibited regularily and in 1895 had a large state commission. There is in fact some controversy as to whether some of Rodin's works may have in fact been conceived and crafted by Claudel but signed by Rodin.

Claudel's relationship with Rodin began to disintegrate in 1892, after he refused to marry her. They maintained contact until 1898, afterwhich she refused to exhibit work with him and tried to distance her scuptural style from his. While her work continued to be exhibited in galleries and art salons, Claudel sank into poverty and isolation. Feeling that she had been wronged by Rodin, she became convinced that Rodin and his associates were persecuting her and even plotting her murder. Eight days after her father's death in 1913, she was committed by her brother to the first of several psychiatric hospitals; she would remain committed until her death in 1943.

The 1970s and 1980s saw a revival of interest in her work, as an exhibition of her sculpture toured throughout Europe and North America, and the film Camille Claudel by Bruno Nuytten was released in 1988.

Reine-Marie Paris, "Camille: The Life of Camille Claudel, Rodin's Muse and Mistress." (1984)
"Claudel, Camille," Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia.

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