Genre: Angst, Romance
Time Frame: 1884 and on
Characters: Camille Claudel/Auguste Rodin
Summary: She starts on a piece that she had once envisioned, long ago. When she was a child sculpting childish things. This time, she is intent on finishing it.
Notes: This is the second of five vignettes I am posting today, all written in Paris. For this, the only thing I found more passoinate and moving in Rodin's museum, was the small room that held Camille Claudel's works. I knew their story, but then seeing the pieces . . . it was touching. The pieces I speak of in this piece are L'Age Mûr - the first draft, and the final piece she molded after splitting from Rodin (and I appologize for any historical details I may have blotched!). Images may help for a deeper understanding of this.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine but for the words.
She starts on a piece that she had once envisioned; long ago. When she was like a child sculpting childish things.
Camille Claudel calls it this in her mind; and in her mind she can whisper the name of the piece with something like confidence. She can speak it as an artist breathes the title of a favorite work. But, her hands tremble as she shapes the clay that the bronze will follow. Her hands shake, and if she were to speak the name of her creation, she is not sure that she could utter it with a steady tongue.
She had started on the piece years ago, and had found little need to return to it in the years that had lapsed. When she had started it, she was nothing more than a child – enthralled by her mentor and swept away by an infatuation that she believed to be all her own. Only hers. She would carve it in secret and write it into the clay she molded before working it away and into the heart of her art. Young and foolish, the attachment had been beautiful in its simplicity. In how it yearned for nothing in return . . .
And then . . .
She found that she was not the only one holding this fascination; this attachment. There was a hand next to her carving secrets into the clay – and eyes meeting significantly across the workroom became tangible instead of fascinating. She had long watched his hands as they danced across his medium, and on her they could create the same sort of divine art as well. With him; she learned more than just one form of art.
During that time, she had no need for the symbol of her fascination and what would ultimately draw them apart when she had what she desired. She had taken the time, in those years, to sculpt passionate things that turned the bronze into liquid fire and the mind's eye into far off and wonderfully sensual things. Her greatest works had come alive under his hand and direction – the same as she.
Auguste . . .
The name was like a fine wine on her tongue, made bitter by careless hands when storing.
She names her piece Maturity for many things. Symbolically, youth saves waning vitality from the haggish hands of old age. More transparently, the piece was her herself, desperate and begging as what she loved and desired most was drawn away by what had always chained him . . .
She was his mind's match. His artistic half. She completed him in a full circle the way he completed her. No other romantic attachment would serve the either of them in that way again – theirs was a marriage of minds and arts and passions.
But she would never be his whole like the other woman. His life's companion, and the mother of his child . . . Rose. How she detests the very name.
But she had tried . . . had begged from the floor as he was drawn away from her, reaching out to him, but never being touched in return . . .
The memory should harden her. Instead she melts like the medium she works with, torn apart and recreated under a master hand. The material gave under her touch, under her pain . . . She moulded her art, not it her; and yet, in that moment they were the same.
This would be her defining work.
Her first version of this piece had been simple – a middle aged man's arm looped over an old woman as he reached for a young woman at his side. It had been conventional. Predictable. It had been her youth.
And now, she sculpted the old woman as a hag – time twisting her features and making her ugly and warped to the eye. The man was in constant motion, leaning towards the hag, with one arm outstretched behind him. The closer he was to the young woman, the smoother his form was. Youth and vitality reviving him. And prostrate on the floor with arms outstretched and face a mask of pain was the girl child that she still yearned to be . . .
She called it Maturity for the passage of time. But it was truly the passage of her own artistic growth. The girl she was could not have conceived this – could not have turned her mind's imaginings into an actual real and tumultuous piece before her. His training unleashed that in her; his guidance and his genius and his love . . .
It is with this that she carves. This is her magnum opus. This is her final requiem – her unfinished symphony and her never ending novel. This is her muse and her pain and her hope and her passion . . .
This is him. This is her.
This is everything between them – time and loves lost and wanted and held too by guilt and duty and doubt.
This is her Maturity.