A rare bronze bust of Auguste Rodin by his lover the sculptor Camille Claudel has been recovered in a brocante shop near the city of Lyon in France. It was reported stolen 23 years ago from the Gueret museum, in Clermont Ferrand, central France.
Camille Claudel (1864-1943) had a turbulent relationship with François Auguste René Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917) the creator of such well known works as The Thinker and the Kiss is widely considered the progenitor of modern sculpture. The bust, which is valued at €1 million ($1.25 million), was discovered during a police investigation into a number of robberies in the region.
Rodin and Claudel had an intense relationship which began in 1884 when she started working in Rodin’s workshop. Claudel became a source of inspiration, his model, his confidante and lover. She never lived with Rodin, who was reluctant to end his 20-year relationship with Rose Beuret. The affair displeased her family, especially her mother, who never supported Claudel’s involvement in the arts. As a consequence, she left the family house. In 1892, after an abortion, Claudel ended the intimate aspect of her relationship with Rodin, although they saw each other regularly until 1898. A number of sculptures of each other were produced during this period.
In 1905 Claudel became mentally ill. She destroyed a large body of her work and was diagnosed as having schizophrenia. She accused Rodin of stealing her ideas and of leading a conspiracy to kill her. she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital of Ville-Évrard in Neuilly-sur-Marne. The form read that she had been “voluntarily” committed, although her admission was signed by a doctor and her brother. There are records to show that while she did have mental outbursts, she was clear-headed while working on her art. Doctors tried to convince the family that she need not be in the institution, but still they kept her there. She died after 30 years in care.
A case into the discovery of the sculpture has been initiated in the Lyon courts.
Image: L to R Rodin by Claudel Centre Claudel age 19 1884 R. Claudel by Rodin