A museum celebrating Camille Claudel

© T. Joly
Recently opened in Nogent-sur-Seine, the Camille Claudel museum traces the work and career of this sculptor. It also gives a glimpse of the late 19th century French sculpture.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
110 km from Paris to Nogent-sur-Seine on autoroute A5 then on D231, N19 and D919.
- By train
Intercités train Paris Gare de l’Est – Nogent-sur-Seine. The journey takes 1 h.
- Hotels
Domaine des Graviers
Hôtel Saint Laurent
Le Beau Rivage
- Bed and breakfast
Au Richebourg
Le Beau Rivage
Auberge du Cygne de la Croix
Au Numero Vins
Musée Camille Claudel
10, rue Gustave-Flaubert
From April 1st to October 31st, open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm, till 7pm on weekends.
From November 1st to March 31st, open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm, till 7pm on Sunday.
Admission : €7 / €4. Free for under 26s and first Sunday of each month for everyone.
- Aube tourist office
Tel : 0325425000
- Nogent-sur-Seine tourist office
Tel : 0325394207
- Musée Camille Claudel
Ph : 0325247634
Fallen into oblivion for decades, today deservedly considered as one of the greatest sculptors in history, Camille Claudel now has a museum in her own name paying tribute to her work. Opened in March 2017, it is located in Nogent-sur-Seine where she lived between the ages of 12 and 15, from 1876 to 1879. It was where she first began sculpting in the local clay mentored by Alfred Boucher, a sculptor living in this small town, who, later, introduced her to Rodin.

© T. Joly
 Late 19th century French sculptures
Built on two levels, the museum is wrapped around the shell of the old home where she briefly lived as an adolescent. It holds 43 works by Camille Claudel, the largest collection in the world, and the galleries’ refined scenography highlights her style and her talent. To begin, it puts her work in the context of the time. For this purpose, the ground floor rooms are devoted to the sculptors associated with Nogent-sur-Seine, the techniques used in sculpture and the art themes which were in vogue in France at the end of the 19th century, namely mythological and historical subjects, the female nude, representations of labour as well as the neo-Florentine movement. These trends are illustrated by works by Alfred Boucher, Marius Ramus and Paul Dubois, of Nogent-sur-Seine, but also by Rodin, Henri Chappu, Léonce Vaysse and Auguste Clésinger.

© T. Joly
 Camille Claudel and Rodin
It also evokes the evolution of the sculpture market with foundries starting to produce casts of some original works in different sizes for the bourgeoisie.
Then comes a large gallery dedicated to the studio of Rodin where she perfected her art and technique before becoming the mistress of the master. It gives the opportunity to compare her work and her style with those by other Rodin assistants such as Jules Desbois, François Pompon and Antoine Bourdelle. Some of her works are also presented alongside Rodin's sculptures showing that her early works betray the influence of her master while later ones underline the couple learned from and inspired one another.
The remaining galleries are entirely dedicated to Camille Claudel. Featuring drawings, casts and sculptures, they focus on the evolution of her skills, her creative process and the way she worked.

© T. Joly
 Focus on masterpieces
However, there are some information about her personal life and tragic fate. Comprising busts, nudes, and narrative scenes, the collection spans her whole career from one of her first works, “Old Hélène,” shown at the French Artists’ Salon in 1882, to the period of her waning mental health. It includes some of the artist’s most recognizable works, like “Abandonment”, "The Gossips”, a miniaturized scene, a bust of her brother, writer Paul Claudel, and her only monumental marble sculpture, “Perseus and the Gorgon”. Special emphasis is placed on two masterpieces. “The Waltz” with pieces that highlights her experiments with different materials. "The Age of Maturity," an allegorical sculpture in which a young woman reaches for an older man who is embraced by a mature woman, maybe a reference to her relationship with Rodin.

September 12, 2017
Thierry Joly