Welcome to the 16th article in the “Celebrating Women” Series for Women’s History Month! It’s the first time I’ve coordinated an author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Heather Webb for this next article. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.
The Sad Story of Camille Caudel, French Sculptor
by historical author Heather Webb
I fell in love with Camille Claudel’s story in my French film class in college. The 1988 movie about her life captured my heart and endeared me to this brilliant, tortured woman who toiled against the male-dominated art world. Her talent was not ordinary, nor was she, and those who knew her spoke of her charm and sudden violence, her biting sense of humor and fervent love for those most dear to her.
But Camille was betrayed ultimately—by her own mind. She developed paranoid schizophrenia that turned her inward, and she adopted a life of solitude; one in which, she fought no one but herself. The day she was committed to the Ville-Evrard Asylum, a brilliant light went out. Yet her works remain, and transcend the tragedy of her life. Her busts and figures tell the story of a woman who admired the beauty of deeply emotional contrasts, the planes of light and shadow, and the perfection of the human form.
In terms of Camille’s successes, she produced many pieces that exhibited in Paris and London, and won recognition from major critics of the day, though in small doses. She was a visionary in her time, as was her teacher and lover, Auguste Rodin. They both bucked the tradition of allegorical sculpture with overwrought gesturing that was so common from the academes of the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
Rodin focused on his idolization of musculature and physical form early in his career and transitioned to more expressionist works that paved the way for the modern era, whereas Camille’s works showcased an emphasis on movement and the inner workings of human emotion. After their split, Camille’s focus turned toward Japonism and polychromy, or the art of sculpting with several different materials within one piece. Today, the bulk of her works reside at Musée Rodin in Paris, as do the letters exchanged between herself and her one great love.
My novel about Camille Claudel and her love affair with her art and Auguste Rodin releases next winter from Plume/Penguin and is called RODIN’S LOVER. Check out my website for details: (live link: http://www.heatherwebbauthor.com/)
For those of you interested in seeing some of her works, a few of my favorites are: The Waltz, The Wave, Maturity, The Gossips, and Clotho. I have a Pinterest board packed with photos of her work as well as Rodin’s. For more, go here (live link: http://www.pinterest.com/msheatherwebb/camille-claudel-auguste-rodin/)
*Photos in this blog post taken from Heather’s Pinterest file.
Heather Webb, Biography~
Heather Webb is the author of historical novels BECOMING JOSEPHINE and the forthcoming RODIN’S LOVER (Plume/Penguin 2015). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. Find her twittering @msheatherwebb or contributing to her favorite award-winning sites WriterUnboxed.com and RomanceUniversity.org.
Becoming Josephine, Synopsis~
Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.
Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.
After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.
BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.
Praise for Becoming Josephine
“Heather Webb’s epic novel captivates from its opening in a turbulent plantation society in the Caribbean, to the dramatic rise of one of France’s most fascinating women: Josephine Bonaparte. Perfectly balancing history and story, character and setting, detail and pathos, Becoming Josephine marks a debut as bewitching as its protagonist.” –Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl
“With vivid characters and rich historical detail, Heather Webb has portrayed in Josephine a true heroine of great heart, admirable strength, and inspiring courage whose quest is that of women everywhere: to find, and claim, oneself.” –Sherry Jones, bestselling author of The Jewel of the Medina
“A fast-paced, riveting journey, Becoming Josephine captures the volatile mood of one of the most intense periods of history—libertine France, Caribbean slave revolts, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars—from the point of a view of one of its key witnesses, Josephine Bonaparte.” –Dana Gynther, author of Crossing on the Paris
“Vivid and passionate, Becoming Josephine captures the fiery spirit of the woman who stole Napoleon’s heart and enchanted an empire. –Susan Spann, author of The Shinobi Mysteries
“Spellbinding . . . Heather Webb’s novel takes us behind the mask of the Josephine we thought we knew.” –Christy English, author of How to Tame a Willful Wife and To Be Queen
“Enchanting prose takes the reader on an unforgettable journey . . . Captivating young Rose springs from the lush beauty of her family’s sugar plantation in Martinique to shine in the eighteenth century elegance of Parisian salon society. When France is torn by revolution, not even the blood-bathed terror of imprisonment can break her spirit.” –Marci Jefferson, author of Girl on the Gold Coin (Thomas Dunne Books, 2014)