In 1902, sculptors Alfred Boucher and Paul Dubois helped open the first ever museum in their hometown of Nogent-sur-Seine, an hour outside Paris, by donating works from their personal collections. Amongst the works were three sculptures by Camille Claudel, a one-time pupil of Boucher. The museum was pillaged after World War II and briefly became a school. Then in the 1970s it was restored to the Musée Dubois-Boucher. Now it has been transformed once again into a museum dedicated to Claudel.
In her lifetime, Camille Claudel suffered much frustration. An assistant, lover and muse to Auguste Rodin, she could not escape his shadow despite her comparable genius. After her affair with Rodin ended, authorities misogynistically censored her nude, often erotic sculptures. In anguish she destroyed many of her works. Family members later collected what survived, and in 2003 sold them to the town of Nogent-sur-Seine.
Now the city has opened the Musée Camille Claudel in a renovated structure that incorporates into its architecture the former Claudel family home, where the sculptor first discovered her gift. The collection includes roughly 70 works purchased from the Claudel family, as well as those originally owned by the Musée Dubois-Boucher, including one of her most important works, Persée et la Gorgone.
Image caption: Camille CLAUDEL, La Valse, 1889-1905. Bronze, 45,9 x 31,9 x 22,9 cm. Achat à Reine-Marie Paris de La Chapelle, 2008 © musée Camille Claudel, photo Marco Illuminati.