"In the shadow of Rodin", by Cristina Morató

I discovered the sculptor Camille Claudel in a harrowing movie that recreates his income in an asylum that never came out. Juliette Binoche gave life to this cursed artist who has gone down in history for being muse and lover of the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin with whom he maintained an obsessive and destructive relationship. His name - like that of many others - fell into oblivion and his art was eclipsed by a man who never let it shine. Now, after decades of ostracism, he finally has his own museum in Nogent-sur-Seine, a town about an hour from Paris where he lived as a teenager. Next to the family house stands a modern building with diaphanous spaces full of light, where 43 sculptures in marble, terracotta, plaster and bronze are exhibited, which attest to their immense talent. They are masterpieces of an exquisite delicacy.

When he met Rodin it was a promising student of sculpture. He was born in 1864, in the bosom of a wealthy family. His mother despised him because he was not a boy and did not approve of his bohemian lifestyle. Only her brother, the writer Paul Claudel, would support her. With him he played as a child and molded clay figures that attracted attention. His father agreed to go to Paris to train as a sculptor and there he was introduced to Rodin, who fascinated by his talent offered to work in his workshop as an apprentice and model.

Artistically they seemed like soul mates. When he turned 19 he became the master's lover, who was 44 and was married. For more than a decade, he was his muse and main collaborator. I entrust her with the execution of the hands and feet of some of her best-known sculptures. And so, while he received all the honors, Camille was more and more in the background. And that she became as good as him. Nobody sculpted the faces better, nobody gave them such expressiveness. Rodin knew it and took advantage of his art, stole ideas and never acknowledged his contributions.

Tired of her invisibility and disappointed that Rodin was not willing to abandon his wife, decided to break their relationship and find their way. He locked himself in his small workshop where he sculpted figures that he later destroyed with a hammer blow. Depressed and sick, stopped washing, barely ate and he lived in the company of only a dozen cats. In 1915 her brother ordered that she be admitted to an asylum. He was 43 years old and it was said that he suffered persecutory mania and delusions of grandeur. His letters reveal a woman manipulated and mistreated by his own, which also shows great lucidity. In this sinister place he would spend his last 30 years. When he died in 1943, nobody went to his funeral and ended up in a common grave.

Now we can admire the sculptures of a woman who had everything to succeed but who was born in the wrong century. "I taught her where to find gold, but the gold she has found is his alone," Rodin acknowledged at the end of his life, when it was too late for her.

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