H. de Roos - Rodin´s Approach to Art

11. Camille and Rose

Camille Claudel, 
portrait by Cesar

Not only is Camille 24 years younger than Rodin; her mother and her brother Paul are suspicious of the artist, who is slowly coming to fame now. One of the things their hear about the sculptor disturbs them: apparently, Rodin has a wife already. Although Rodin adores Camille, employs her in his studio, takes her as a model for various sculptures like The Thought, La France and Saint George, spends the summer days with her at the Château d´Islette and pays the rent for her house near the Dépôt des Marbres, he does not want to dissolve his ties to his old love and companion Rose Beuret. Rose had been loyal to him during the difficult years in Belgium, she had watched over his precious clay models and been his model for Mignon and La Bacchante


Bulloz, gelatin silver print
28,5 x 38,2 cm
Musée Rodin, Ph. 636

Mignon (Mme Rodin)
1867-68, bronze
Rodin Museum Philadelphia

On 22 January 1866, their son Auguste-Eugène Beuret had been born. Rodin never recognised him as his child, nor was he prepared to marry Rose. Still, he does not want to leave her alone. Together with Rose, he lives at the Rue des Grands Augustins. At the same time, Rodin and Camille share an atelier in the Folie Neufborg, a little old castle at the Boulevard d´Italie. 

They are an artistic, sexual and spiritual pair.  Camille still hopes she can replace Rose, who does hardly participate in Rodin´s social and intellectual life and rather functions as a kind of housekeeper. 

Matthias Morhardt recalls:

La Tête de Rose, plaster, 1880-82; 
papier albuminé


"She wanted Rodin to repudiate his poor old Rose, who had been the companion of his early years, and who had shared his poverty. He could not bring himself to to that, though both as a man and an artist he was passionately in love with Camille Claudel. "She has no sense of fair play", he told me one day, "just like all women."

   Matthias Morhardt, quoted by Frederic Grunfeld, Rodin - A Biography, p. 230

Camille´s friend Jessie Lipscomb recollects, Rodin had two children with Camille, who were raised in a boarding school,  but a curious contract of October 1886, in which Rodin promised to give up all contact to his former models and to marry Camille, never is fulfilled. In 1893, Rodin moves with Rose to the Villa Bellevue in Meudon. Camille does not give up, though: she does not want confine herself to the role of a mistress and assistant. According to Georges Reyer, there are impetuous scenes of jealousy, and Kenneth Clark wrote that one day, Rose even shot at Camille. In L´Age Mûr (1894), Camille Claudel depicts this fatal triangle relationship between Rodin, Rose, and herself. In biting caricature sketches, she comments on Rodin´s unwillingness to give up Rose. Finally, she starts to move away from Rodin, develops her new concept of narrative sculpture.

Renate Berger, Camille Claudel in ihrer Zeit, in: Camille Claudel, Skulpturen, Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Edition Stadtbaukunst, 1990, p. 16 ff. See also J.A. Schmoll, Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, Prestel Verlag, p. 35. For the most complete information on Camille Claudel, see the publications and exhibitions initiated by Reine-Marie Paris, Paul Claudel´s granddaughter.

By the time the monumental version of The Kiss is presented at the 1898 Salon, their liaison has ended, although Rodin continues to support her artistic reputation. Camille, sliding into paranoia, suspects Rodin is abusing her ideas, even leads a conspiracy to poison her. In March 1913, after the death of her father, Camille is delivered to the mental hospital Ville-Evrard. Till her death in 1943, she will stay in custody, deprived of her art. In January 1917, Rodin and Rose finally marry, two weeks before Rose´s death. 




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