Lot 211
  • 211

Camille Claudel

300,000 - 500,000 USD
932,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Camille Claudel
  • La Valse (deuxième version)
  • Inscribed C. Claudel, stamped with the foundry mark Eug. Blot Paris and numbered 21
  • Bronze


Galerie Odermatt-Cazeau, Paris
Acquired from the above in July, 1997


Anne-Rivière, L' Interdite Camille Claudel 1864-1943, Paris, 1983, illustration of the plaster version p. 27, illustration of another cast p. 30
Reine-Marie Paris, Camille Claudel, Paris, 1984, illustrations of another cast pp. 261-63
Reine-Marie Paris & Arnaud de La Chapelle, L' Oeuvre de Camille Claudel, Catalogue raisonné, 1991, Paris, no. 28, illustrations of another cast & other versions pp. 130-34
Anne Rivière, Bruno Gaudichon & Danielle Ghannasia, Camille Claudel, Catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1996, no. 32.7, illustrated pp. 87-88, illustrations of another cast pp. 89 & 91
Anne Rivière, Bruno Gaudichon & Danielle Ghannasia, Camille Claudel, Catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1996, no. 33.7, illustrations of another cast p. 115

Catalogue Note

Fascinated with stone since childhood, Camille Claudel moved to Paris in the early 1880s from her family's farm in northern France to pursue a career in the plastic arts. A ravishing beauty with immense promise, she was not even twenty years old when the sculptor Paul Dubois introduced her to Auguste Rodin and within a year she became an apprentice in his studio. Claudel and Rodin worked together for over a decade, during which time she flourished both as in indispensible figure in the Rodin studio and a virtuosic sculptor in her own right. Claudel not only produced unbelievably elegant and sensual masterpieces such as La Valse, she also contributed hands and feet (widely acknowledged to be the most demanding forms) to Rodin's most famous work La porte d'Enfer, and there is even speculation that she was the true creator of Rodin's celebrated Galatée (Mathias Morhardt, "Mlle. Camille Claudel," Mercure de France, 1898, p. 17)

Quite unjustly, Claudel's genius has at times been diminished by her association with Rodin. This is primarily due to their infamous love affair, which ended tragically and sent Claudel into a downward spiral of mental illness, prematurely ending her career and ultimately forcing her to spend the latter half of her life confined in a sanitarium. There is also the occasional insinuation that Claudel never shed her apprentice status, yet Rodin's own letters reveal that he considered Claudel to be his equal as a sculptor, and one need only look at the present work to see her utterly unique accomplishments. The unabashed eroticism is tempered by the tender symbiosis of the figures. The rhythm of the waltz in which they are engaged can be felt in the tension of the bodies and the whirl of the drapery. In another version, today known as the first, the figures are enveloped by drapery which climbs up and around their heads. In a second version the drapery is modified, so that the figures are now nude from the waist up. Variations also ensued within this second series, where the base on which the figures dance was modified and the placement of the man and woman's heads vary. The present work incorporates several of Claudel's modifications, as here the man's lips rest tenderly against the woman's cheek, rather than against her neck as in other versions. The drapery is also more worked than in other versions, and serves as a support for the two figures enveloped in their delicate and passionate dance.

It has been noted that the La Valse series represents Claudel's, "most daring and personal works" and that with, "these works, Camille Claudel displayed a completely autonomous genius and takes a place among the greatest artists of the turn of the century" (Anne Rivière, Bruno Gaudichon & Danielle Ghanassia, op.cit., pp. 116-17).

Fig. 1  The artist at work in her studio circa 1886.