Tragic story of Camille Claudel – abandoned Schizophrenic

 “A revolt against nature: a woman genius”.Camille_Claudel 19

See Camille in Avignon June – November (see below)

Born in 1884, Camille Claudel became fascinated by stone and clay as a child, and began early to study with a local sculptor – as of course women in the 19th century were refused admission to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Only men had enough talent.
Her mother, from a wealthy Catholic Champagne family never approved of her daughter’s extraordinary talent in sculpting.

At the age of 20 this young girl from Northern France went to work for Auguste Rodin in Paris, became his inspiration and lover, had an abortion to him and was eventually refused marriage by him.  Her sculpture “Mature Age” seen here reflects Claudel’s abandonment by Rodin : she implores him kneeling while he prefers coming back to Rose, his seamstress lover of 20 years who embraces him from behind and is depicted un-flatteringly as old.


Old Love Auguste and Rose








After 12 years with Rodin, their affair ended and Camille Claudel began showing signs of mental illness: she destroyed many of her statues, disappeared for long periods of time and was diagnosed as having schizophrenia.

She accused Rodin of stealing her ideas and of leading a conspiracy to kill her. From 1906 she lived secluded in her workshop.
Camille was never told of the death of her supportive father. Within days of his death her mother and brother had her committed to an asylum in Northern France.

Camille_Claudel_atelierBy outbreak of World War One she was moved down to Montfavet “lunatic” asylum near Avignon in Provence. Several friends visited her claiming they were perplexed by her being committed to an asylum as she appeared lucid and sane. Despite repeated letters and appeals from doctors and medical staff there to have her released and re-integrated into her family, Camille’s mother refused and she stayed shut away for 30 years until her death in 1943.

Her mother never visited her and only a few hospital staff attended her burial in a common grave.


Avignon – Women in Art Exhibition  – From 1 June to 11 November 2013

The city of Avignon is preparing to welcome a truly remarkable event: five world-famous artists will be honoured at the Popes’ Palace and the Lambert Collection. These artists are all great ladies of Art, essentially in contemporary art: Camille Claudel, Louise Bourgeois among others.


palais des papes luminescenceAvignon also prepares a monumental show in 3D, Les Luminescences d’Avignon, from 15 August to 28 September:

The main courtyard of the Popes’ Palace will be dressed in light, placing the audience in the heart of monumental 3D images and sequences supported by a sound track. There will also be a 21st-century sound-and-light show prepared by Amaclio, creator of the Nuit des Invalides in Paris last spring.



One response to “Tragic story of Camille Claudel – abandoned Schizophrenic

  1. Pingback: 8 Historical Geniuses Who Had Mental Illnesses | Openhearted Rebel·

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