6- Rodin’s circle of friends

The Musée Rodin owns a collection of works by artists who were close the sculptor. Camille Claudel (1864-1943) is the best represented. Having joined Rodin’s studio as a pupil in 1883, her highly expressive art developed rapidly, under her teacher’s powerful influence. The passionate love affair that united the two artists proved to be equally euphoric and destructive for both of them. Little by little, Camille Claudel moved out of Rodin’s sphere of influence, notably by exploring materials like onyx marble, a semi-precious stone that is very hard to carve. The subjects she handled in this medium were more informal (The Gossips), in reference to Japanese art, a source of inspiration for European art in the late 19th century (The Wave). Her large Symbolistic group, The Age of Maturity, depicts a man no longer in his prime leaving Youth behind to join Old Age – it may be interpreted as an allegory of the break-up of Rodin and Camille Claudel’s relationship.

Rodin employed several sculptors in his studio. Some of them were friends like Jules Desbois (1851-1935), whose sculpture in a realist vein, Misery, is shown here, or Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), who made several portraits of Rodin. The impressive bust, known as Portrait of Rodin with Multiple Profiles, is characteristic of Bourdelle’s well-structured style.

Among the painters in his collection, Eugène Carrière (1849-1906) and Claude Monet (1840-1927) were close friends of Rodin. The joint exhibition of Rodin and Monet’s works, held at the Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, in 1889, was a huge success.

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