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The Gossips or women chatting, second Version
Camille Claudel (1864 -1943)
H. 40 cm ; W. 40 cm ; D. 40 cm
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In a letter dated 1893 to her brother Paul, Claudel mentions a small group of three women listening to another, all seated behind a screen. Possibly inspired by a scene she had observed in a railway carriage, The Gossips was exhibited in the plaster version at the Paris Salon in 1895. Two years later, an onyx and bronze version was also shown at the Salon. Two other versions of the same work, in marble and bronze, marble or plaster, exist in public and private collections.
Presented as a Life Study, the title given to the exhibit at the Salon in 1895, it is one of Claudel’s most original works. In the Musée Rodin version, the emphasis is on the preciousness of the materials used and the Japanese influence at play in this group of women,whose attitudes may suggest a meeting of meddling gossips, but whose nudity, hair and slightly protrusive jaws suggest something far different. In some versions, their hair tends to become a quasi-independent object, which only heightens the strangeness of this nevertheless familiar scene.