During the 1890s, l’Islette, far from Paris, sheltered the passionate love affair of two great sculptors, Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin.
A place of creation and source of inspiration, Rodin worked on his famous statue of Balzac here, a statue commissioned in August 1891 by the Société des Gens de Lettres (Society of Men of Letters).
You asked me…to write and express my thoughts about your statue of Balzac. I find it great and very beautiful and the finest of all your models of this same subject…In short, I believe that you should expect great success especially among real connoisseurs who will find no comparison between this statue and all the others that have decorated the city of Paris up until now.» (Camille Claudel)
As for Camille Claudel, she sculpted one of major works here: La Petite Châtelaine, taking as her model the granddaughter of the château owners at the time.
Camille Claudel made four versions of this bust, with different hair.
«There is…in the very disproportion of this head, that is already too powerful, too lively, already too open to eternal mysteries, and the delicately childish shoulders that she reveals, something indefinable that communicates a deep anguish…the bust proves…proves that Mlle Camille Claudel is therefore a master of her art…» (Mathias Morhardt)
The château still feels the resonance of their presence.
«You cannot imagine how good it is at l’Islette…
And it’s so pretty there! If you are kind, if you keep your promise, we will know paradise.»
(Camille Claudel to Rodin)
-Portrait of RODIN with a crew cut and lorgnette reading glasses by Nadar, around 1891 © Rodin Museum.
-Portrait of Camille Claudel by Cesar, around 1884 © Rodin Museum.
-Monument to Balzac S.1296, A. RODIN © Rodin Museum (photo by Jean de Calan).