Thursday, February 28, 2013

Charlotte Bronte and the Tale of Unrequited Love

In June of 2012 I wrote an article, 'Charlotte Bronte and the Tale of Unrequited Love' based on Charlotte Bronte's teaching years in Brussells. It was featured as a guest post article at the time on the blog of Loretta Proctor.  However, I just realized that I have never posted my article in full on my website!  I was reading an article in The Telegraph that reminded me of my article, Charlotte Bronte.

Charlotte Bronte and the Tale of Unrequited Love

In February of 1842, Charlotte and Emily went to Brussels to enroll as students in the Rue d’Isabelle boarding school that was run by Madame and Monsieur Heger. The Bronte sisters were hoping to improve their skills in languages. Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music in return for board and tuition.
In January 1843 Charlotte Bronte started a teaching post at Rue d’Isabelle.  However, her stay there was not a happy one; she was homesick, lonely and became what could be termed a deep ‘attachment’ for Monsieur Heger.  Madame Heger thought that Charlotte had fallen in love with her husband, and therefore became very cold and distant towards her. Monsieur Heger taught her German, but otherwise, had little to do with her.  Early in 1844, Charlotte came home, but continued to write to Monsieur Heger, even though he allowed her to write to him only twice a year.  It was in May 1843 that Charlotte wrote to Emily complaining of Madame Heger, “Of late days, M. and Madame Heger rarely speak to me; and I really don’t pretend to care a fig for anybody else in the establishment. I am convinced she (Madame Heger) does not like me; why, I can’t tell. (O Charlotte!) Nor do I think she herself has any definite reason for this aversion.  (!)  M. Heger is wondrously influenced by Madame. He has already given me a brief lecture on universal bienveillance; and perceiving that I don’t improve in consequence, I fancy he has taken to considering me as a person to be let alone, left to the error of her ways, and consequently he has, in a great measure, withdrawn the light of his countenance; and I get on from day to day, in a Robinson Crusoe like condition, very lonely.”

In March 1843, writing to her friend Ellen Nussey, Charlotte Bronte complains of loneliness in the school, missing her sister Emily, she references the Heger’s kindess , “ As I told you before, M and Madame Heger are the only two persons in the house for whom I really experience regard and esteem; and of course I cannot be always with them, nor even very often. They told me, when I first returned, I was told to consider their sitting-room my sitting-room, and to go there whenever I was not engaged in the schoolroom. This, however, I cannot do. In the daytime it is a public room, where music-masters and mistresses are constantly passing in and out; and in the evening I will not, and ought not, to intrude on M.  And Madame Heger and their children. Thus I am a good deal by myself; but that does not signify. I now regularly give English lessons to M. Heger and his brother-in-law.”
In January 1844 Charlotte finally returned home to the Parsonage at Haworth. Of course, it is believed that she based some parts and characters of The Professor and Villette on her reminiscences of her years at Rue d’Isabelle.  It was in her novel Villette that the character of Paul Emanuel was based on Monsieur Heger and Madame Beck was Heger’s wife, Madame Heger.  In Villette, Bronte describes the feelings of protagonist, Lucy Snowe upon leaving, “Anguish of suspense; heart-sickness of hope deferred; despair, following on repeated disappointment; rage and indignation at the cruelty and injustice of this outrage done to a Love , that has wronged no one, robbed no one, that has no desire to inflict injury on others.”

The extent of Charlotte Brontë's feelings for Héger  were not fully understood until 1913, when her letters to him were published for the first time. Héger had first shown them to Mrs. Gaskell when she visited him in 1856 while researching her biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë, but she concealed their true significance. These letters, referred to as the 'Héger Letters', had been ripped up at some stage by Héger, but his wife had retrieved the pieces from the wastepaper bin and had meticulously sewn them back together. Paul Héger, Monsieur Heger’s son, and his sisters, gave these letters to the British Museum, and they were shortly after printed in The Times newspaper.

The first letter to Monsieur Heger Charlotte Bronte wrote on November 18th,
“I may, then, write to you, without breaking my promise. The summer and winter have seemed very long to me; in truth, it has cost me painful efforts to endure up to now the privation I have imposed upon myself. You, for your part, cannot understand this! But, Monsieur, try to imagine, for one moment, that one of your children is a hundred and sixty leagues away from you; and that you are condemned to remain for six months, without writing to him; without receiving any news from him; without hearing anything about him; without knowing how he is; well, then you may be able to understand, perhaps, how hard is such an obligation imposed upon me.”

Monsieur Heger had not answered her November letter. She waited for a reply but when none came she wrote a second letter where she apologizes for it and tries to keep a temperate tone,
“Ah, Monsieur! I know I once wrote you a letter that was not a reasonable one, because my heart was chocked with grief; but I will not do it again! I will try not to be selfish; although I cannot but feel your letters the greatest happiness I know. I will wait patiently to receive one, until it pleases you, and it is convenient to write one. At the same time, I may write you a little letter from time to time; you authorized me to do that.”

No reply letters arrive to Charlotte Bronte but still in October she writes to him again convinced that his wife, Madame Heger will not allow him to receive her letters,
“October 24-Monsieur-I am quite joyous to-day. A thing that has not often happened during the last two years. The reason is that a gentleman amongst my friends is passing through Bruxelles, and he has offered to take charge of a letter for you, and to give this same letter into your hands; or else his sister will do this, so that I shall be quite certain that you receive it.”

Charlotte Bronte writes again, a longer final letter to Monsieur Heger on January 8, 1845 in an attempt to recapture the loss of his friendship,
“I  submit to all the reproaches you may make against me; if my master withdraws his friendship from me entirely, I shall remain without hope; if he keeps a little for me (never mind though it be very little) I shall have some motive for living, for working.
Monsieur, the poor do not need much to keep them alive; they ask only for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table, but if these crumbs are refused them, then they die of hunger! For me too, I make no claim either to great affection from those I love; I should hardly know how to understand an exclusive and perfect friendship, I have so little experience of it! But once upon a time, at Bruxelles, when I was your pupil, you did show me a little interest: and just this small amount of interest you gave me then, I hold to and I care for and prize, as I hold to and care for life itself . . .
. . . I will not re-read this letter, I must send it as it is written. And yet I know, by some secret instinct, that certain absolutely reasonable and cool-headed people reading it through will say: ‘She appears to have gone mad.’ By way of revenge on such judges, all I would wish them is that they too might endure, for one day only, the sufferings I have borne for eight months-then, one  would see, if they too did not ‘appear to have gone mad.’
One endures in silence whilst one has his strength to do it. But when this strength fails one, one speaks without weighing one’s words. I wish Monsieur all happiness and prosperity. “
8th January.

Charlotte Bronte’s letter went unanswered and no other letters were sent that we know about! What we do know for certain, is that when it came to writing novels, Charlotte Bronte’s life experiences and those she knew, were incorporated into her works.

The Secret of Charlotte Bronte by Federika MacDonald, London, TC &EC, Jack, 1914
The Brontes Life and Letters by Clement Shorter, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1908

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R.A. (1849-1914)

Every artisan—I would say every intelligent labourer has photographs taken of his family and of himself; and however poor examples of likeliness these may be, they are vastly superior to the old silhouettes, which were the only cheap form of portraiture before the invention of photography.”~   My School and My Gospel by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, 1908

  Herkomer ( Sir Hubert von, R.A. ) Ivy, half-length classical maiden crowned with an ivy wreath, mixed-method engraving (“Herkomergravure”), 510 x 410mm., signed in the plate, upper right, slight browning towards sheet edges, framed and lgazed in carved ivy motif frame, [Fine Art Society], [1896].

Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R.A. (1849-1914) along with Norman Hirst (1862-1955) explored an inventive printing technique called Herkomergravure; a process of creating a monotype by applying ink by hand to a lithographic stone, then producing a photogravure of the result. It could be enhanced with additional mezzotint or etching to give definition to surfaces and outlines, but the overall result remains very free and spontaneous.

 Clematis by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R. A. (1849-1914) in collaboration with Norman Hirst (1862-c. 1955), 1899, Mixed method engraving by Herkomer and Hirst, 21 1/2 x 15 1/4 inches,Published by Henry Graves & Co., 1899

 From My school and my gospel, on Mezzotinting, Sir Hubert von Herkomer explains,
The first work I was able to put into the hands of a student was in a department not taught in the school. It was neither painting nor drawing, but mezzotint engraving.  I had been practicing etching or some years, and was just then endeavouring to revive the art of mezzotint engraving as it was done in the early days, on copper-a metal that was abandoned by engravers for steel, which would render more impressions than the softer metal. With the assistance of my printer, I succeeded in coating the surface of the finished engraving on the copper with steel-a process which, up to that time, had only been successfully employed on etched copper plates. 

It was prophesied that the mechanical process of photogravure would kill mezzotint engraving. But the continued, and well-paid, commissions my former pupils have received clearly show that this was a false alarm. As I obtained no help from engravers in the technique of mezzotint engraving, I experimented on my own lines, and many of these experiments were successful.  We then decided what tool should be used for the rocking of the ground, how many ways it was to be crossed (as the first texture always shows when the lights are scraped down); and with what variety of texture the subject should be treated.  This change of texture made it possible to avoid monotony in passages that particularly required ‘crispness,’ a quality usually most difficult to obtain in mezzotint, as its specific characteristic is softness. "

Sir Hubert von Herkomer addresses the reader, “I fear I have just used technical terms that the general public will be unable to follow. But the province of this book is not to make the art of mezzotint engraving, any more than that of painting, clear to the layman; and I ask his indulgence for the sake of the practicing student, who will, I hope see and read these pages and he will understand.
Daphne by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R. A. (1849-1914) in collaboration with Norman Hirst (1862-c. 1955) c. 1899, Mixed method engraving by Herkomer and Hirst, 22 x 14 1/2 inches. Signed by engraver, inscribed 'never to be sold/ Working Proof/ No. 2'.

Herkomer's drawing from The Graphic his self-portrait and his two children featured at the bottom, his son Siegfried and his daughter Elsa.

Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1849 - 1914), painter, watercolourist, draughtsman and etcher of portraits, landscapes, genre subjects. Hubert von Herkomer was born in Germany in 1849, but his family moved to England before he was ten years old. In 1869 he began working as an artist for a newly-founded newspaper 'The Graphic'.  After making his name drawing for the Graphic newspaper he made very good money as a portrait painter, which allowed him to produce social realist paintings for his own satisfaction. Herkomer was also a pioneering film maker. He established a studio in Lululaund and directed a number of historical costume dramas, designed to be shown accompanied by his own music. He opened his own art school and 1883, as well as acting as Slade Professor of Art between 1885 and 1895. Knighted in 1907, Heromer died in 1914.

Sir Hubert's father, Lorenz Herkomer, Hubert's son and daughter, Siegfried and Elsa. A beautiful painting by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R.A., Russell Coates Art Gallery

Here are some of Herkomer's well-known friends. I'm sure you'll recognize them!

My beloved Alfred Lord Tennyson. Hubert Herkomer [pencil signature.] [Goupil & Co., 1879.] Etching printed in brown ink on watermarked laid paper, 
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (1809 - 1892), Poet Laureate. Tennyson was made a baron in 1883, the first writer to be so honoured. At this time he wrote a number of verse plays on historical themes such as Queen Mary (1875) and Becket (1884). 

John Ruskin, age 60, in mezzotint (1879) on the left and final portrait on the right.  Both Ruskin and Herkomer's thoughts on this portrait are recorded as follows:

In November of 1879 John Ruskin wrote to Acland saying, ‘I gave carte blanche to Herkomer yesterday, who wishes to make an etching of me. I really hope there may be a little more kindly and useful truth known of me than from photographs.’ From John Ruskin: A Life in Pictures by James S. Dearden

The sittings began immediately in Ruskin’s study at Herne Hill. On December 1 he wrote to Sara Anderson. ‘I’ve been quite a prisoner to Mr. Herkomer, who has, however, made a beautiful drawing of me, the first that has ever given what good may be gleaned out of the clods of my face. ‘ 

Sir Hubert von Herkomer said:  He seemed most anxious not to look at the painting until I quite finished it; whilst sitting he was theorizing about the methods of painting. I used in those days to paint abnormally large watercolours, and always covered the paper first with a wash of some ochre or grey, then sketched the subject with charcoal. I would then commence with a hog-hair brush, working up the ground colour with some fresh tones, and out of a kind of chaos produce a head. Ruskin queried even the possibility of this, and would hardly believe that my final outlines and delicate bits of drawing were put in last.’

 The Council of the Royal Academy by Hubert von Herkomer 1908. Published by Franz Hanfstaengl, Murich, London & New York. Printed in Munich. Photogravure. The original painting was donated to the Tate Gallery by the Artist in 1909.
[Ref: 10053]   £390.00   

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Americas Finest: The Red Rose Girls (1863-1935)

Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, Jessie Willcox Smith and Henrietta Cozens in their Chestnut Street studio, 1901.
Photograph shows Green, Oakley, and Smith seated, each holding a rose, while Cozens holds a watering can over their heads, pretending to water them. Identification on verso (handwritten): The red roses; Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, Jessie Willcox Smith, Henrietta Cozens; with Violet Oakley poster [in background] for first exhibition at the Plastic Club; taken at 1523 Chestnut Street, when they planned to move to "The Red Rose", Villanova.

Three Philadelphia women became successful illustrators for books and magazines working in a profession largely dominated by men at the turn of the 20th century:  Jessie Willcox smith (1863-1935) Violet Oakley (1874-1961) and their colleague Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954).  They forged an unconventional communal relationship based on passion for their art and love for one another. Under the mentorship of their teacher, the illustrator Howard Pyle, they earned commissions from the nation’s most prestigious periodicals, including Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post. For instance, Violet Oakley’s paintings now hang in the Pennsylvania state capitol building.  Along with their friend Henrietta Cozens, they set up a household at Philadelphia’s beautiful Red Rose inn and called themselves the ‘Cogs family,’ a name formed from the initial letters of each of their surnames. However, society and the press referred to them as ‘The Red Rose Girls.’  In their own individual ways these women were rebels, and their story, often romantic, yet resolutely stylized illustrations were the epitome of respectability. 
 Violet Oakley, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Henrietta Cozens, 1901

Jessie Willcox Smith and Elizabeth Shippen Green with Prince the dog in the garden at Cogslea. Elizabeth Shippen Green stands in the garden by the fountain, the dog Prince laying at her feet. Jessie Willcox Smith is stepping through the garden door. 1901.

I know I shouldn't single just one woman out when all were amazing individually. However, Violet Oakley became known not only as an illustrator but a muralist as well. So for this reason she will be highlighted here. 

 Violet Oakley standing beside a portion of her 44-foot-wide mural, International Unity and Understanding.

Violet Oakley (1874-1961) was America's greatest woman muralist in the early 20th century. She became famous for her murals in 1905 in the Pennsylvania state capital. That success led to many commissions and an international reputation as a painter of moral and idealistic subjects. She painted the first delegates of the League of Nations and the United Nations, and published illustrated books in support of world peace, disarmament and human rights.

As Violet travelled and studied throughout Amerca and Europe, she painted portraits and landscapes in an impressionistic style. In 1896 her father's illness forced her to concentrate on illustrations solely. The technique she developed as an illustrator grew into the mural style that made her famous. 

 Violet Oakley's mural painted on the walls of the Governor's Room of the Pennsylvania state Capitol Building

Penn's Vision," by Violet Oakley, Governor's Reception Room in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg, PA.
 In the 1910s, Violet Oakley painted forty-three murals in the Governors Grand Reception Room, the Senate, and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. 

The Holy Experiment by Violet Oakley

A visit to Pennsylvania's Capitol in Harrisburg is not complete without seeing the famous mural series created by Philadelphia artist Violet Oakley (1874-1961). The commission to paint these thirteen murals for the Governor's Reception Room, which was awarded to Oakley in 1902 and completed in 1906, signaled not only her status as a major Pennsylvania artist but also was a milestone in the history of American art. It was the largest public commission awarded to a woman in the United States to that date. With this series, titled The Holy Experiment, Oakley garnered a gold medal in 1905 from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and significant national recognition throughout her career.
Violet Oakley in her studio, 1901

 Violet Oakley in her studio at 1523 Chestnut Street. Photograph taken before 1898

I just love this photograph of Elizabeth Shippen Green in her studio at the Red Rose Inn, 1903

Violet Oakley and Henrietta Cozens (ca. 1864-1940). Cozens lived with the Red Rose Girls and tended to the overall upkeep of the house and gardens. Oakley and Cozens enjoy a cup of tea together while sitting on the terrace at Cogslea with the family dog, Prince, seated behind Cozens.

 After leaving the Red Rose Inn the Girls moved into Cogslea, in Mount Airy on the edge of the Wissahickon section of Fairmount Park. Based on an acronym of the foursome’s last names, the Girls liked to refer to themselves as the “Cogs” family. Jessie Wilcox Smith often photographed her subjects in the surrounding grounds of the estate. Shown in the garden, the subject stands in front of the pergola next to a fountain (bottom left). The adjacent portrait captures a glimpse of the Cogslea estate (bottom right). 

 The Thousand Quilt, 1904, by Elizabeth Shippen Green

 Morning, 1902, by Jessie Wilcox Smith

I just wanted to provide a glimpse into the world of three amazingly talented turn of the century American female illustrators and muralist.  Photographs taken from American Archives Smithsonian Institution

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Sunday, February 17, 2013


This splendid young woman, in the triumphal glow of beauty and genius…A superb forehead over two magnificent eyes of a dark blue that we rarely see outside of novels…this large mouth, more proud than sensual, this powerful mass of chestnut hair, the true chestnut called auburn by the English, and which fell down her back. An impressive air of courage, directness, superiority, gaiety.  One who was endowed with much.”  Paul Claudel from Ma Soeur Camille, Camille’s brother.

In a small town nestled among the fields and rolling hills of the Champagne region, in Fere-en-Tardenois, France, Camille Claudel was born on the 8th of December in 1864 to Madame Louise-Athanaise Cervaux Claudel and Louis-Prosper Claudel, a French middle class family.  Camille proved to be more like her father in nature, imaginative, quick-tempered, and with a sarcastic sense of humor.  Monsieur Claudel received a humanistic education in a Jesuit school and possessed a substantial classical library. His main contribution to the family resources was as a registrar, a good reason why he was remembered as thrifty and conservative in his political views.  He was a crucial force behind his children’s artistic achievements.  As far as Camille was concerned, he proved to be a very liberal father, and until his death in 1913, he remained her staunchest supporter. 

Paul describes The Claudel Family in his Memoires improvise,Everyone quarreled in the family: my father and my mother quarreled, the children quarreled with the parents, and they quarreled much with each other. Conflict was a daily occurrence.  In sharp contrast to her husband, Madame Claudel, is described by Paul, “She was a sullen, unassuming woman, with a rural rather than bourgeois character.” His sister Camille remembers her as, “the spirit of forbearance that exuded from her person, her hands crossed over her knees in an expression of complete self-sacrifice: everything pointing to humility, to a sense of duty pushed to the extreme.

One vitally important aspect of Madame Claudel’s character and sense of self is noted again by second born son, Paul Claudel, “Louise-Athanaise Cerveaux, Madame Claudel had been brought up by her father, dr. Athanase Cerveaux, after her mother’s early death. Sadly, this motherless childhood appears to have crippled her emotionally, shaping her into a rigid woman unable to express feelings of tenderness: our mother never kissed us.”

An example of art classes at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, 1908

 In 1881 The Claudel Family moved to Paris, living in an Montparnasse apartment where Paul was enrolled in the prestigious lycee Louis-le-Grand, and Camille aged seventeen started her studies at the Acadamie Colarossi.  It is not difficult to see why Camille Claudel chose the Academie Colarossi: it taught more modeling, it was cheaper,and it gave women the same opportunities as men. The school allowed a great deal of scheduling flexibility, thanks to a curriculum that could be as short as a week and as long as ten months. Two of Camille's studio partners, British sculptors Amy Singer and Emily Fawcett, befriended Camille, possibly at Colarossi but remained her partners for several years. Sharing the cost of rent and models to cut down on expenses, they also received free lessons from Alfred Boucher, who came by the studio once or twice a week.

Camille Claudel with friend and fellow artist Ghita Theuriet  1880)

In this manner, Boucher became the patron of Camille's atelier. As his weekly visits increased the respect he held for Camille's work, he decided to introduce the young sculptor to his friend Paul Dubois, the director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Camille met Dubois and showed him several clay studies, among them David and Goliath so admired by Mathias Morhardt. Dubois immediately recognized the strength of these early works, a strength he had previously seen elsewhere, and exclaimed: "You took lessons with Monsieur Rodin!" But Camille had not yet met Rodin. She did not even know his name.
Camille Claudel and Jessie Lipscomb at their atelier N° 117 de la rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, 1887, photograph by William Easton

It was during this time Camille Claudel met Auguste Rodin. Although, no records survive describing their initial meeting, it is known that when Rodin received his first major commissions in the early 1880s, he gathered together a team of assistants to work alongside him in his studio, which Camille Claudel became a part of in 1884. She apparently spent most of her time on difficult pieces, such as the hands and feet of figures for monumental sculptures notably The Gates of Hell.  For Claudel, this was an intensive period of training under Rodin’s supervision: she learned about his profiles method and the importance of expression. In tandem, she pursued her own investigations, accepted her first commissions and sought recognition as an independent artist at the Salon. Between 1882 and 1889, Claudel regularly exhibited busts and portraits of people close to her at the Salon des Artistes Français. Largely thanks to Léon Gauchez, Rodin’s friend the Belgian art dealer and critic, several of her works were purchased by French museums during the 1890s. Claudel’s works during this period attest to Rodin’s influence: the Torso of a Standing Woman (c.1888) and the Torso of a Crouching Woman (1884-85) show how she had grasped the expressive potential of a fragment of the human body.
 Torso of a Crouching Woman (1888)

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 Rose 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. In 1893 Claudel exhibited her sculptures, The Waltz and Clotho, at the Paris Salon. Claudel depicts Clotho as an elderly woman with a hauntingly wasted body, tangled in the threads of destiny she must weave. Both pieces were received well by critics, and it seemed that Claudel, about to turn 30, was entering her peak as an artist.
The Waltz by Camille Claudel
 Clotho by Camille Claudel
Rodin's residence where Rose Beuret stayed alone

As Claudel and Rodin's relationship intensified,  Rose became a subject of contention between the lovers. Claudel repeatedly asked Rodin to choose between them, but he refused, desiring to keep both women in his life. Rose, who lived with the sculptor, kept his house, and raised his child, seemed willing to accept her lover's infidelities and his lack of interest in marriage. In most circles, Beuret was known as Madame Rodin, despite their unmarried status. Rodin's unwillingness to leave Beuret would ultimately drive Claudel away and some believe this is what drove her mad.

The love affair and creative collaboration between Claudel and Rodin would last nearly 15 years. Letters from Rodin in the mid-1880s reveal just how smitten he was with the female sculptor who was 24 years his junior. Rodin in an undated letter writes in a moment of distress after a serious quarrel with camille an outpouring of confused feelings, it begins with "Ma feroce amie" and tumbles down in a passionate torrent:

My Camille be assured that I feel love for no other woman, and that my soul belongs to you. I can't convince you and my arguments are powerless. You don't believe my suffering. I weep and you question it. I have not laughed in so long. I don't sing anymore everything is dull and indifferent to me. I am already a dead man and I don't understand the trouble I went through for things which are now indifferent to me. Let me see you every day; it will be a generous action and maybe ;I will get better, because you alone can save me through your kindness. 

 In 1886 he followed Claudel to England, where she was visiting The Lipscomb Family, friends whom invited her down to stay with them. Rodin showed up with an excuse but then left days later leaving Camille there for a longer visit.
 Camille is the shorter woman standing in the black dress first on the left

She is said to have 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.

Camille Claudel was at her most productive creatively after the breakup with Rodin. Having completed 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.

With creativity or creative genius does 'madness' ensue? Is creativity tied to madness or madness as nineteenth-century norms depicted? In the case of Camille Claudel society and her peers have answered with a resounding "yes!"   I sadly, answer with a resounding "no!"
Camille's immediate family, her parents, brother and sister, watched helplessly as Camille struggled for acceptance into her Parisian artistic community and society. She craved acceptance by her peers not just acknowledgement. She made great strides for a 19th century female artist. However, she would never receive the same accolades as her male counterparts. This along with her dwindling finances, coupled with her own fears, escalated her 'madness' which came out in her beginning to isolate herself in her studio apartment with the blinds closed. Neighbors told their children not to speak with her. Her family complained of how Camille would tell them that she believed her artist friends were plotting against her. Her delusions increased as she fought her creative outlet. I firmly believe that it was her creativity that gave her a type of double edged sword. In other words, she thrived on painting and sculpting. She was an artist at heart for most of her life but her insecurities, and doubts would inevitably drive her into the deepest of despair and depression.  The ultimate final nail in the coffin, came with the death of her beloved father on the second of March in 1913. It was only three days later that her mother and brother together agreed and signed papers committing her to  a mental asylum in Ville-Evrard, near Paris. Five days later two orderlies broke into Claudel's apartment and took her to the asylum in an ambulance. She was 39 years old.
She lived for the next 30 years in two mental asylums transferring to Mondevergues, near Avignon. During these years her only visitors would be her brother Paul who lived with the guilt of locking her away. Her sister never spoke to her for most of her life and her mother never visited or replied to any of Camille's letters that we know of.  The doctors at these two asylums diagnosed Camille Claudel as having, 'Persecution Mania.' The Psychological Medical Dictionary definition says, ‘a sensory disorder where the individual believes evil is planned against him, done in various ways. It can later manifest itself as a form of dementia. Sometimes aggressive behavior and hallucinations.”  Although, Persecution Mania is believed to be a genetic disorder and on Camille’s mother’s side of the family there is a history of abandonment and mental and emotional cruelty. 
Sadly, the last sculpture Camille Claudel created with her own two hands was in 1910 a bust of her brother Paul Claudel at Forty-two years of age in bronze. For thirty three years she would never create again. Remaining shut away in a home for the insane. What would that do to your creative soul? 
 Camille Claudel at Montdevergues 1929
I leave you with the beauty she created. Merci, Camille Claudel. I hope you have found your peace and are at rest. 

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A book review of The Ghost Ship by Kate Mosse

New York Times  bestselling author Kate Mosse returns with  The Ghost Ship , a sweeping historical epic of adventure on the high seas. The B...