On 27th November, during the prestigious end of year Modern Art auction and following the Rodin sale, Artcurial
will highlight Camille Claudel and her work, in association with the Sculpture & Collection, Alexandre Lacroix and Eve Turbat consultancy. Enthusiasts and collectors will be given the opportunity to discover 20 original pieces from the family of the artist. The ensemble includes 20 bronzes, terra cottas, plaster casts and never before seen works and preparatory models for the most famous of Camille Claudels creations. Amongst them, two terracotta studies of Sakountala, created in 1886 in preparation for the final bronze version, LAbandon. The auction also includes a bronze cast of the work by Blot, cast during the lifetime of Camille Claudel. It carries an estimate of 600,000 800,000/ $660,000 - 880,000.
With the dispersion of this collection, Artcurial highlights the talent of the woman who was sculptor August Rodins colleague, mistress and muse, and whose career came to a shattering end following psychiatric internment and death in quasi-anonymity.
Rediscovered by passionate researchers in the end of the 1970s, Camille Claudel (1864-1943) is immensely popular nowadays, and in this year 2017, two new public spaces have been dedicated to her work: the Camille Claudel museum of Nogent-sur-Seine, which houses the largest collection of the artist in the world and the former presbytery of Villeneuve-sur-Fère, place of memory, more confidential, which evokes the artistic careers of Camille and Paul Claudel.
« From the de Massary collection, the name of the Camille Claudels sisters husband, this set of 20 works is exceptional. The scarcity of the pieces is a measure of Camille Claudels total production during the course of her life, barely a hundred of pieces, the media diversity that traces the sculptors creative journey and of course, the family provenance. » --Bruno Jaubert, Deputy Director of the Modern Art department, Artcurial
Camille Claudel in 20 works
The family collection that Artcurial will auction off on 27th November includes 16 sculptures and 1 work on paper by the artist, to which we add two plaster sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Tête de lAvarice and Etude pour la Tête de Saint-Jean-Baptiste (estimate: 15,000- 20,000 / $16,500 -22,000) and a pastel Portrait de Camille Claudel by her friend Gita Theuriet (estimate: 6,000 8,000 / $6,600 -8,800).
Amongst the Camille Claudel pieces, we find three terra cotta models including Etudes 1 et 2 pour « Sakountala », each carrying an estimate of 50,000 70,000/ $55,000 -77,000, a large number of plaster including Tête de vieille femme, étude pour lAge mûr or La petite Châtelaine à la natte courbe and three bronzes including the Buste de Ferdinand de Massary and LAbandon, grand modèle, created between in 1886 and 1905, cast by Blot and carrying an estimate of 600,000 800,000/ $660,000 880,000.
Additionally, are represented portraits of her relatives: her brother Paul, Mon Frère en Jeune Romain, ou Buste de Paul Claudel à seize ans (80,000 120,000/ $88,000 -132,000), of her sister Louise, her father Louis-Prosper and her mother Louise-Athanaïse.
Camille Claudels short artistic career, from 17 to 41 years old, is peppered with remarkable pieces. The earliest of the collection, Diane, from 1881, is also the one of the oldest kept from the artist (estimate: 8,000 12,000/ $8,800 -13,200), while the latest, lEtude pour le buste de Paul Claudel à 37 ans, from 1905, created during a trip to the Pyrénées with her brother, counts amongst her last important works (estimate: 20,000 30,000/22,000 -33 000 $).
Throughout her career, Camille Claudel never sought to produce a plethora of work intended for the market. At her death, she leaves a body of work composed of approximately only 80 models. The 16 pieces presented by Artcurial are extremely rare: most of the models were never transcribed to bronze by the artist, while the drawings and plasters remain unique works of art: this is the case of Tête de Vieille femme, étude pour lAge mûr, La petite châtelaine à la natte courbe, Etude de lavarice and La Femme à sa toilette or Femme lisant une lettre.
A treasured legacy
The works from the collection come from the Claudel family home, located in Villeneuve-sur-Fère. The family moved to this location in 1869, when Camille Claudel was four years old. The home therefore constitutes the artists point of anchor, where she will work in peace in a workshop located in an attic. From 1913, the year of her psychiatric internment, her whole body of work is seemingly grouped in the family home, with the exception of LAbandon which joins the collection in the 1980s.
In 1932, the Villeneuve home becomes the property of Camille Claudels nephew, Jacques de Massary, the only son of her sister Louise. When he died at the age of 46, leaving two sons, the house remains in his familys possession, including part of its valuable collection, to this day.
The collection remains the only large set of works from Claudels direct family. It has been the subject of numerous exhibitions: at the Rodin Museum in 1951 and in 1984 as well as in many cities throughout the years from 1990-2000: Washington, Hamburg, Quebec, Madrid, etc
The collection was last presented to the public presentation during a 2014 exhibition in the Roubaix pool, entitled Camille Claudel au miroir dun art nouveau, celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the artists birth. It is one of the most beautiful collections of Camille Claudel works held by a private collector.
Camille Claudel: her life as a sculptor
Born on 8th December 1864 in Fère-en-Tardenois in the Aisne departement, Camille Claudel began modeling clay as early as 12 years old, using her younger brother and sister, Paul and louise as models. She begs the cook to bake her models in their oven: at this period, she is the family «artiste ». During this time, she sculpts David et Goliath out of clay, which cnvinved her father of ther precotious vocaction.
In 1882, after a fierce struggle, Camille Claudel moves the entire family to Paris where she takes lessons to become a sculptor. She follows courses at the Colarossi Academy and works alongside other women in a workshop located Rue Notre Dame des Champs where Alfred Boucher comes to advise them. A year later, Auguste Rodin takes his place. The artist is struck by the strength and the sharpness of Camilles busts, such as La Vieille Hélène or Paul Claudel à treize ans, depicted as a young Roman boy.
In 1885, Camille Claudel starts working at Rodins workshop, on Rue de lUniveristé. From a student, she quickly becomes a colleague and muse, model and companion. Three years later, her sister Louise maries Ferdinand de Massary, who poses for a bust by his new sister in law. She is awarded an honorable mention at the Salon des Artistes Français for a remaquable plaster entitled Sakountala, at the origin of an excellent marble, Vertumnus and Pomona, exhibited in 1905 and two fonts for the Eugène Blot gallery under the name Abandon.
As the years go by, Camille Claudel is hurt by Rodins absence. He cannot resolve himself to leave his companion, Rose Beuret. Her health deteriorates, and she works relentlessly towards her first commision from the State in July 1895, LÂge mûr. In 1898, she ends her liason with Rodin, moving into what will be her last studio, on quai Bourbon. Marble has become her material of choice, but lacking funds, her studies and sketches accumulate.
Camille Claudel continues to exhibit her work at the Automn Salon des Artistes français but in 1906 her health deteriorates further and she begins to behave erratically: at the first days of summer, using a hammer, she habitually smashes every piece of work accumulated in her workshop. In 1913, following her fathers death, Camille Claudel in interned at Ville-Evrard then transferred to Montdevergues close to Villeneuve-lès-Avigon where she remains another 30 years, until her death in 1943