Camille Claudel


As one of the first women on the arts scene of belle epoch Paris, Camille Claudel made quite an impression when she arrived at Auguste Rodin's studio at the age of 19 to work as his assistant. Rodin was quickly drawn to her – and her evident talent – and before long, she was his model, lover, inspiration and artistic equal.

Camille Claudel in her workshop (before 1930)
Rodin introduced her to all the famous figures in Paris; she, for her part, helped change the course of his work. In sculptures such as The Waltz and The Wave, she sought to capture a fleeting moment in motion, or the ephemeral moment "just gone". Contrary to the assumption of the 19th-century's academy (who thought she was imitating Rodin's work) Claudel's presence in Rodin's studio cast an important influence over his work, rather than the other way around.

By focusing on figurative sculpture – sometimes nude – Claudel attracted public outrage. Griselda Pollock, professor of social and critical histories of art at Leeds University, confirms that Claudel was "a major force in the experimental and transformative partnership that occurred artistically in Rodin's studio"; yet her work was subject to gendered censorship.

Rodin circa 1862.
For instance, to get a clay maquette made in bronze you needed the funding and the approval of the official Institut. When the inspectors visited Claudel's studio, they refused to give her permission to cast The Waltz because it showed two nude bodies in close proximity. The very idea was not acceptable from a woman's hand, whereas from Rodin's hand, work influenced by Claudel's daring, became acceptable as men are allowed to know about sexual desire and the body.

Bust of Rodin (1892)

In 1888 Claudel moved out of her parents' house and rented a small apartment in Paris. Shortly after, Rodin purchased a house nearby known as La Folie-Neufbourg. Here the lovers were said to have occasionally lived together, while Beuret remained at Rodin's primary residence. During this time, Rodin sculpted several portraits of Claudel, and Claudel sculpted her Bust of Rodin (1892), the artist's favorite portrait of himself. Claudel also began working on her minor masterpiece The Waltz (begun 1891), which depicts a couple entwined in a dance.

The affair with Rodin both made her and destroyed her. Rodin, already in a committed relationship and 25 years her senior, was not prepared to leave his long-term partner, Rose Beuret, though he promised her that he would.

Camille Claudel, The Waltz, 1895
While Rodin's infidelities are well-documented, less is known of affairs Claudel may have had with other men. Some historians believe she had a brief romance with the composer Claude Debussy in or around 1890. Whatever passion may have existed between them was over by early 1891, however, when they ceased seeing each other. Debussy was said to have kept a small cast of The Waltz on his piano until his death.

Immediately following the breakup, Claudel was perhaps her most productive, completing some of her most original and mature works, including L'Age Mur (1898), an autobiographical sculpture depicting a love triangle, and La Vague (1900), with three female figures bathing under an enormous wave. The latter work was indicative of a new style for Claudel, who now used onyx, a rare material, and based her compositions on an eloquent play of curves. She composed large works as well as sculptures of a more intimate scale, making quick sketches of people in the streets of Paris and returning home to sculpt them. Unfortunately, these small figures do not survive; she destroyed them all.

L'Age Mur (1898)

The destructive aftermath of the affair consumed her to such a degree that she threw away much of her work and was admitted to an asylum, where she lived for 30 years.

Gradually, Claudel began to feel persecuted. She even accused Rodin of plotting against her.

What made her public profile all the more contentious was her unmarried status. Alone as a woman of her class, not married to the man with whom she had a sexual relation, perhaps deeply distraught by the loss of love and undergoing major changes in her life cycle, while she watched her own sculptural ideas make Rodin the lionized figure of French sculptures, she may well have had some kind of psychological breakdown.

While her artistic career had its highlights, she never managed to earn enough money to be fully independent and, at times, Rodin paid the rent on her studio. Claudel came from a rich family and her father, having spotted her talent, supported her sculpting, but after he died, her diplomat brother and mother – more suspicious of her lifestyle – held the purse strings. It was after her father had died that she found herself on the streets of Paris, dressed in beggar's clothes. Now at her most vulnerable, her brother admitted her to a lunatic asylum.

For the remaining 30 years of her life, Claudel languished in an insane asylum, transferring once to a facility in Montdevergues, near Avignon. Her life as a sculptor was over, although she wrote letters begging her brother and mother to release her and let her return to the artist's life. When Claudel's doctors tried to interest her in sculpting and presented her with clay, she angrily rejected it. Diagnosed as suffering from a persecution complex, she remained deeply paranoid of Rodin, and blamed him for her troubles.

Whether or not Claudel was truly insane and needed to stay in an asylum remains unclear. She wrote lucid letters to her family and friends, and even her doctors recommended that she be released on at least two occasions. But her brother was often abroad, and her mother would not allow her release, claiming that she was too old to care for her daughter. Brazilian-French actress and writer, Gaël believes she languished here for decades for being a woman who was "ahead of her time".

Sources: The Independent 
Your Dictionary


Hitler's Architect

In Art Johnson's new novel, Deadly Impressions he performs his usual method of taking a real personage from history, in this case Roderich Fick, and blending them into his story.  In Paris after the war Roderich meets the freshly arrived art restorer Madeline Steinman and their affair furthers the mystery of the Missing Impressionist paintings. 

Roderich was a talented architect who Hitler commissioned to design the Fuehrer museum in Austria after he conquered the world.  The museum was to house all of the confiscated Nazi art work.  Rod visits his brother's family in Switzerland during the war.  He takes his 12 year old nephew for a walk in the forest and tells him that his father has an incurable disease and will die soon. He gives Zeke a mysterious envelope and instructs him not to open until after his father's death.  In the envelope is a key and instructions.

Roderich Fick (1887-1955) studied architecture in Munich Zürich and Dresden. After several years in Africa he returned in 1935 to become professor at the Munich Technical University. In 1936 he built the "Haus der deutschen Ärtzte" (House of the German Medical Ass.)

After a building near the Braunen Haus in Munich attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler to his surprise Hitler provided him with further commissions in Munich and also for buildings at the Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden. Roderik Fick designed the Munich residence of Rudolf Hess in 1937, was involved in a number of projects for members of the Nazi leadership, these projects included the building of both Martin Bormann’s own villa in Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s first and original Teehaus on the nearby Mooslahnerkopf, Hitler was the adviser .

Fick constructed several buildings for Hitler's Obersalzberg complex and was appointed (in 1939) "Reichsbaurat für die Neugestaltung der Stadt Linz" (State Councillor for the Redesign of the City of Linz).

Fick was responsible for the buildings which flank the Nibelungen Bridge -- the only parts of Hitler's grand scheme for Linz that were actually completed.

None of Ficks projects were to be as spectacular and as technically testing as the Teehaus on the Kehlstein mountain.

Fick’s structure was essentially a massive granite square with the largest room, the main reception hall, being octagonal in shape with a large panoramic window. This and other specially-placed windows would provide both the Führer and his visitors with a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains as well as both the Scharitzkehl Valley and the Königssee lake.

After the war Fick was officially classified as “Mitläufer”, a person passively complicit in Nazi crimes. In 1946 his conduct in the nazi era was investigated. He was forced to pay a huge fine and support the rebuilding of Munich. In 1948 his case was re-investigated and it was concluded that he had never enriched himself. All he had to do was pay a much smaller fine and he was free to work again. In 1938 his wife Marie had died and in 1948 he married his former student Catharina Büscher, who was 28 years his junior. They worked together until he retired in 1954.

Sources: WW2Gravestone, Bayerische Geschichte

Five Stars for Deadly Impressions!!

Billionaire Ezekiel Fick is extremely worried. His pride and joy, his granddaughter, Stephanie has been kidnapped. He'll do whatever it takes to get her back. Using his contacts among the elite of the United States, Zeke demands action from everyone!  To the LAPD and private investigator Arnold Blackburn, this seems like an ordinary kidnapping. They all seem to follow the same game plan. This one, however, stops being ordinary when no demands are sent to Zeke. Everyone is contacting their sources to try to find Stephanie. Will it be enough help?
purchase on
This book surprised me. I felt it was going to be another simple mystery. WOW was I ever wrong. Mr. Johnson leads you subtly and carefully down a path of twists and turns. The intrigue and suspense is off the charts.  While reading this book, I was certain I knew who dun-nit only to be proven wrong over and over. The writing style is terrific. The characters well defined and easy to understand. I also loved the history tie-in. This book is an easy read and perfect to curl up with. I know you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

I gave this one 5 cheers out of 5 because of the twisted ending it has.

Reposted from Have You Heard Book Reviews

A New Look at Old Paintings

A novel technique has revealed never-before-seen details of Renaissance artworks in Italy.
Part of a fresco by the Zavattaris in the Theodelinda’s Chapel near Milan, Italy. The artworks, executed between 1440 and 1446 are extremely rich and complex, featuring different fresco techniques, gold and silver decorations and reliefs. Color photography (a), and imaging in the NIR (b), compared to the TQR image (c).
Credit: Optics Express

A new look at old paintings reveals never-before-seen details of two Renaissance works of art, including hidden decorations in brilliant silver and gold.

The hidden accents appear on frescoes painted in the Chapel of Theodelinda in the Monza Cathedral in Italy. To the naked eye, they appear dull and are sometimes even painted over. Using a new technique, however, Italian scientists can make the colors pop. These new visualizations could help art historians restore and conserve the paintings.

The technique is called thermal quasi-reflectography, or TQR. It uses reflected light to differentiate between different pigments on a piece of art

 "This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time that this technique has been applied on artworks," study researcher Dario Ambrosini of the University of L'Aquila in Italy said in a statement. "This novel method represents a powerful yet safe tool for artwork diagnostics." [See Photos of the Renaissance Art]

A new light on old art

Art conservators have long used parts of the light spectrum not visible to the naked eye to bring out tiny details in old paintings. Infrared light, for example, has wavelengths longer than visible light. By taking images of artwork in these long wavelengths, scientists can see places where layers have been painted upon layers, revealing preparatory sketches and changes by the artist.

Other techniques use thermal, or heat, energy to investigate the materials a painting is made of as well as structural flaws. A dot of paint with an air bubble behind it, for example, will emit less heat than spots where the paint is flush because of the insulating properties of air.

Ambrosini and his colleagues turned this last technique on its head. Instead of measuring heat emitted from a painting, the researchers shone a halogen lamp in the mid-infrared spectrum onto the frescoes and measured the amount of light reflected back. A camera capable of capturing mid-wavelength infrared light recorded the image created as the light bounced off the art.

The set-up was simple, but the researchers had to control the environment carefully, ensuring that the lamp did not heat the painting surface and that there were no other sources of heat nearby.

Unseen detail

The researchers tested the TQR technique on two frescoes, or murals created on wet plaster on walls. The first were the 15th-century paintings in the Chapel of Theodelinda, which depict the life of the patron queen of the church. With the TQR system, the scientists were able to make out extra detail on the old frescoes. Suits of armor, dulled and uniform to the naked eye, reveal sharp lines and careful detail under the infrared technique. In one case, the individual fingers of a soldier grasping a staff come out of hiding.

Because silver and gold pigments are highly reflective, they stand out strongly in the new views of the Theodelinda frescoes. Decorations on the soldier's armor appear almost luminous in the new images.

Next, the researchers tried the technique on Piero della Francesca's "The Resurrection," which dates back to the 1460s and depicts the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This painting is held in the Museo Civico of Sansepolcro in Italy.

In this fresco, the new images showed differences in pigments that look nearly identical to the naked eye. They also showed telltale signs of retouching, as well as a segment of a soldier's sword painted with two different fresco techniques. These tiny details can be very important to art historians trying to restore a work to its original condition.

The researchers are now testing the technique on other, non-fresco types of paintings, hoping it can be used to tell what kinds of pigments were used to make the painting.

"Determining the chemical makeup of the pigments is important in determining how best to protect and restore the artwork," Ambrosini said. He and his colleagues reported their work Monday (June 18) in the open-access journal Optics Express.

Read more at Live Science