Although the historical precedent had been set well before Camille Claudel, her story is still a classic case of a woman being screwed over by a man.
Though some may say that her paranoia was unfounded.
Camille Claudel at 18
Was her life pre-destined to end the way it did or did it simply take an unfortunate turn when Auguste Rodin became her instructor? Oh sure, it probably went well for awhile, this bit of luck to have a master sculptor as her mentor, but then things got messy. Things got intimate and their relationship and respective works roiled back and forth and in between to such an extent that for some it’s impossible to tell which sculpture was done by Rodin and which by his pupil and whether one was a copy of the other or the other way around.
When Rodin wouldn’t leave his companion Rose Beuret, Camille tried to get some space.
She continued to work.
The Waltz (1889-1905)
Then things got ugly.
At least for Camille.
The Age of Maturity (1894-1900)
Bless her heart. The heartbreak of her eventual breakup with Rodin is evident in the movement of the sculpture above. Let’s not forget that he was her whole world from when she arrived in Paris from the country at the tender age of 18 right up to the break up when she was 24.
She continued to work but seven years after the break up (and still a relatively young woman at 31 years of age), Camille’s paranoia concerning Rodin started to deepen alarmingly. She’d become convinced that he’d kept some of her works, made moulds of them and claimed them as his own.
As a young woman in 1905, can you imagine the reaction to her allegations?
“Excuse me, Miss… Why would a master sculptor steal your work? You should be grateful for all he’s done for you.”
She became convinced that her apartment was broken into and that her works and ideas were being stolen. That the Fine Arts Inspectors were in league with Rodin. Basically she fell apart, destroying many of her sculptures and notes. She’d disappear for lengthy periods.
Given the above, one might assume that it was Rodin who screwed her over. No. It’s even worse.
Shortly after the death of her father (who had been supporting her financially), her brother had her placed in an asylum. Then she was placed in another one because of WWI. Though she had visits from her brother from time to time (to gloat?), not once did her mother or sister come to visit her. Friends visited her and tried to appeal to the crazy authorities on her behalf: “WE SWEAR THAT SHE’S NOT CRAZY. NO REALLY, when she claims she isn’t crazy, she really isn’t. Let her out!”
She died there.
Thirty years after being locked away.
She was buried in a communal grave, her family never claimed her remains (she was survived by the same brother who had her locked away).
Now they make movies about her, the tragic romance of it all.