I could probably write a novel on my thoughts about Camille Claudel. This photograph (by l’enfer) is the first photograph I’ve seen of “La Valse (The Waltz)” that begins to grasp the depth of feeling in her work.

I first came across Claudel, when I was in an undergraduate art history class. I wrote a paper then that argued that she was more than simply Rodin’s muse. She was the creative force that brought Rodin new popularity later in life. She worked directly on pieces for which he gained credit, including “Gates of Hell” and “Burghers of Calais.”

There are many arguments for why this was perhaps even common practice at that time, but since she helped him with a lot of his work, there are very few pieces attributed to her directly. One of them, and one that shows her genius in expression as a sculptor, is “La Valse.” The solid bronze seems to melt and twist to an inaudible melody.

Although there are stories of a relationship between Claudel and Claude Debussy, the details are vague. It seems to be true, however, that he had a copy of “La Valse” either on his piano or on his mantle piece. . .

4 thoughts on “Waltz

  1. This is so beautiful ! There is a saying that Rodin couldn’t “do” feet – and that she did all the feet in
    his later sculptures. Thanks for posting this. I love the variety of your interests, Hanna.
    I found out about “The River”. The dark house is the house of his grandparents. When they passed away he went back to Japan and in this house he had memories of his own life, he had totally repressed.
    He printed those prints so very dark, on the walls they must be beautiful !! There is another great
    story behind the picture he put into the auction. Almost unbelievable !!
    But I have to wait for reports how big this piece is in reality.
    Thanks for all your posts. Always a surprise in Hanna’s blog.

    1. Dear Christiane,

      Yes, Claudel did a the hands and feet of the Burghers of Calais. But of course she was also a model for Rodin, so she appears in some of his work too. That tension of being in the artwork, but also contributing to the creation of the work fascinates me.

      The story about “The River” is amazing! Thank you for sharing it, and I look forward to hearing about his other piece.


  2. I have seen a lot of Rodin’s work but don’t remember seeing any of Claudels’. This is beautiful—and the photo is good to.

    1. Dear Gene,

      I remember the first time I saw a photograph of her work as I was flipping through a collection of prints of female artists’ work. At the time, the image of “Young Girl with a Sheaf of Wheat” caught my attention, and I flipped back to that page just to stare at it. Later I became fascinated by Claudel’s tragic life story. . .

      If only photography could capture sculpture fully. . . then I might be able to write more here about Noh masks as well. Another sublime form of sculpture.

      Warm wishes,

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