The Life of Camille Claudel Before Meeting Rodin


Camille Claudel was born on the 8th of December in 1864 in the small town called Fere situated in the northern province of France. Her father Louis Prosper Claudel was a wealthy and respectful man. His business was connected with real estate and her mother Louise was a devoted catholic. She was a calm woman moderate in her emotional affects and seemed to live in her own world. The children were the center of her living. The Claudel family had two girls, Camille and Louise and a son named Paul. Each child was born two years later after the birth of the previous one and Camille was the eldest of them.

Louise was the most diligent and obedient child of the three. She was her mother’s pet and listened to her directions without any objections. The most troubled child was Camille. She was little interested in household routine. The young Camille used to walk alone in the suburbs admiring the rock silhouettes in the evening sky. Later she remembered that those rocks reminded her the antique colossuses.

Camille lived in the world of her childhood dreams and shared her thoughts and ideas only with her junior brother Paul. Once she revealed her dream to him. She said that she was feeling herself to be born for something high and spiritual. Paul Claudel later remembered his elder sister to be “a thoughtful young girl in the triumph of her beauty and genius”.

Camille Claudel had been already showing the first signs of her genial personality even when she was a teenager. She was fond of making sculpture portraits of her closest relatives using only clay and her own hands. She insisted that her mother, sister, brother and father should pose for her. She mixed clay with enormous efforts that are not typical of a young girl. She watched the faces of her first models carefully and the clay became alive under her fingers.

She later said that charisma was the thing that she didn’t manage to hide inside of her soul. Her talent was bright and explosive. That finally disturbed her mind.

When Camille turned 7 her parents sent her to girls’ boarding school. She turned out to be a bright student and showed much success in her studies.

In 1881 the Claudel family moved to Paris as Louis Clodel received a promotion. Camille was 17 by that time. She entered Colarossi Academy. Her first teacher was Alfred Boucher. It was he who introduced young Camille to August Rodin.

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