Lot 43
  • 43

Camille Claudel

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 GBP
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  • Camille Claudel
  • inscribed Camille Claudel and with the foundry mark Siot Decauville Fondeur Paris
  • bronze
  • height: 96cm.
  • 37 3/4 in.


Siot-Decauville Fondeur, Paris
Eugène Blot, Paris (acquired from the above after 1902)
Private Collection, Sweden (acquired in the late 1950s. Sold: Stockholms Auktionsverk, Stockholm, 5th December 1990, lot 7325)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Brussels, Salon de La Libre Esthétique, 1894, no. 94
Paris, Musée Rodin, Camille Claudel, 1951, no. 16
Paris, Musée Rodin, Camille Claudel, 1991, no. 40
Paris, Grand Palais, Salon 92, 1992
Morlaix, Musée des Jacobins, Camille Claudel, 1993, no. 26
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum; Oslo, Nasjonalgalleriet & Helsinki, Ateneum, Imagination and Dreams, French Symbolism 1886-1908, 1994, no. 101
Tokyo, Bunkamura Museum; Yamaguchi, The Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art; Kitakyushu, Kitakyuschu City Museum; Takamatsu, Takamatsu City Museum of Art & Matsuyama, The Ehime Prefectural Art Museum, Camille Claudel, A Retrospective, 1996, no. 23
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais & Ghent, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Paris-Bruxelles, Bruxelles-Paris: les relations artistiques entre la France et la Belgique, 1848-1914, 1997, no. 372, illustrated in the catalogue (as dating from 1889-93)
Canada, Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec; Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Art & Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Claudel and Rodin: Fateful Encounter / Claudel et Rodin: Le rencontre de deux destins, 2005-06, no. 64, illustrated in the catalogue
Milan, Palazzo Reale, L'Arte delle Donne dal Rinascimento al Surrealismo, 2007-08
Paris, Musée Rodin, Camille Claudel. Une femme, une artiste, 2008


Ernest Verlant, La Jeune Belgique, April 1894
Emile Verhaeren, ‘Le Salon de la Libre Esthétique. Les Sculpteurs’, in L’Art Moderne, 1st April 1894
Mathias Morhardt, 'Mlle Camille Claudel', in Mercure de France, March 1898, p. 733
Paul Claudel, 'Camille Claudel', in L'Art Décoratif, July 1913, illustrated p. 20
Paul Claudel, 'Ma sœur Camille, son œuvre est l'histoire de sa vie', in Figaro littéraire, 17th November 1951, p. 9
Cécile Goldscheider, Camille Claudel (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin, Paris, 1951, no. 16, illustrated pl. VIII
Paul Sentenac, 'Les sculptures de Camille Claudel et les galeries', in Cette semaine, 12th-18th December 1951
Michelle Seurière, 'Gazette des arts: Camille Claudel (Musée Rodin)', in L'Opéra, 28th November - 4th December 1951
Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, ses collaborateurs et ses amis (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin, Paris, 1957, no. 54, p. 24
Anne Pingeot, 'Biographie de Camille Claudel', in La femme artiste d'Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun à Rosa Bonheur, Mont-de-Marsan, Lacataye, 1981, p. 104
Bruno Gaudichon, 'Notices Camille Claudel', in Catalogue des sculptures XIXe et XXe siècles dans les collections des musées de Poitiers, Musée Sainte-Croix, Poitiers, 1983, p. 62
Anne Rivière, L'Interdite, Camille Claudel, Paris, 1983, no. 16, p. 75
Bruno Gaudichon, 'Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre sculpté, peint et gravé', in Camille Claudel (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin & Musée Sainte-Croix, Poitiers, 1984, no. 74b, illustrated p. 108
Reine-Marie Paris, Camille Claudel 1864-1943, 1984, mentioned pp. 65, 359-360
Brigitte Fabre-Pellerin, Le Jour et la Nuit de Camille Claudel, Paris, 1988, illustrated
Renate Flagmeier, 'Deux autoportraits précédant L'Âge mûr', in Les Dossiers du Musée d'Orsay, no. 25, 1988, illustrated p. 39
Joseph Boly, 'Camille Claudel, état des recherches et du rayonnement', in Société Paul Claudel en Belgique, 1989, p. 49
Claudine Mitchell, 'Intellectuality and sexuality: Camille Claudel the "fin de siècle" sculptress', in Art History, vol. XII, no. 4, Leeds, December 1989, illustrated p. 421
Reine-Marie Paris & Arnaud de La Chapelle, L'œuvre de Camille Claudel, catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1990, no. 27, illustrated p. 128 (as 'lost' and with incorrect measurements)
Dominique Jarrassé, Rodin. La passion du mouvement, Paris, 1993, p. 116
Gérard Bouté, Camille Claudel. Le miroir et la nuit, Paris, 1995, p. 226
Anne Rivière, Bruno Gaudichon & Danielle Ghanassia, Camille Claudel, catalogue raisonné, Paris, 2001, no. 33.2, illustrated p. 109
Anne Riviere & Bruno Gaudichon, Camille Claudel. Correspondence. 2003, mentioned pp. 86-88, 329, illustrated pl. 27
Camille Claudel, 1864-1943 (exhibition catalogue), Fundación Mapfre, Madrid & Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007-2008, illustrated p. 83
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Camille Claudel & Rodin: Time will Heal Everything, Paris, 2013, illustrated p. 35


Rich dark brown patina. Apart from some verdigris in the deeper recesses, mainly in the drapery, this work is in very good original condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Depicting two figures enveloped in a delicate and passionate dance, La Valse is largely considered to be one of Claudel's most accomplished sculptures. Claudel moved to Paris in the early 1880s from her family's farm in northern France to pursue a career in the plastic arts. 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 indispensable figure in Rodin’s studio and a virtuosic sculptor in her own right, producing elegant and sensual masterpieces such as La Valse. Antoinette Le Normand-Romain commented: ‘Her sculptures were modelled with the extraordinary accuracy and intensity of expression which had characterised Rodin’s work throughout the 1880s, whilst perhaps endowing them with more powerful emotion, as her work was the direct expression of her feelings’ (A. Le Normand-Romain, op. cit., p. 35).


Claudel completed the plaster cast of the present composition, known as the first version of La Valse, in 1892. The present bronze, the only one made of the first version, was cast in the following year by the Siot Decauville foundry in Paris. In this work the rhythm of the waltz in which the two figures are engaged can be felt in the tension of the bodies and the whirl of drapery which climbs up and around their heads. In the second version the drapery is modified, so that the figures are 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's and woman's heads vary.


Armand Dayot, a contemporary art critic and at the time inspector general of the Ministry of Fine Arts, described La Valse as ‘a graceful entwining of superb shapes, balanced in a harmonious rhythm in the midst of whirling draperies. Ah, these draperies are indeed flimsy […] Melle Claudel wanted to sacrifice the least nakedness possible, and I can’t say that I blame her. They are, however, sufficient to cover certain details which are too visibly realist and, at the same time, to indicate the subject’s character. This light shawl which clings to the sides of the woman, leaving her body naked – a superb body which is gracefully arched as if to flee a kiss, finishes in a kind of quivering train. It is like a torn sleeve, from which a winged object seems suddenly to appear! […] Melle Claudel is an artist with great talent’ (A. Dayot, quoted in ibid., p. 35).

Fig. 1, Auguste Rodin, L’Eternelle idole, 1891, bronze, Musée Rodin, Paris