The letters, of which reproductions are on display in this room, come from the Musée Rodin in Paris. We are grateful for their permission to show them here.

On the wall to the right, as you enter the common room

Inv. L.1452, Archive Musée Rodin, Paris

From today onwards, 12 October 1886, I will have Mademoiselle Camille Claudel as my only pupil; and I will protect her alone by all the means I have at my disposal by my friends who will become her friends, especially by my influential friends.    I will not accept other pupils any more so that no other rival talents will appear by chance though I suppose we often meet artists equally naturally gifted.   At the exhibition, I will do everything I can for the positions, and for the newspapers.   I will not under any circumstances go to Madame …’s any more I will no longer teach her sculpture.   After the exhibition in the month of May we leave for Italy, and stay there for at least six months, the start of an indissoluble bond after which Mademoiselle Camille will be my wife. I would be very happy to be able to offer her a marble statuette, if Mademoiselle Camille would really like to accept it. In the four or five months between now and May, I will have no other woman; otherwise the conditions will be broken.  If my order from Chile is to be carried out, then we will go to Chile instead of Italy. I will not take any of the female models I have known.  It will be done from a photograph at Carjat’s, in the outfit Mademoiselle Camille wore to the Academy a town dress and perhaps an evening dress. Mademoiselle Camille will stay in Paris until May, Mademoiselle Camille promises to see me in her workshop four times each month until the month of May. Rodin

Inv. Ms.368, archives musée Rodin, Paris

Your favourite virtue. I don’t have one; they’re all boring.

Your favourite qualities in man. obeying his wife

Your favourite qualities in woman. really infuriating her husband

Your favourite occupation. Doing nothing

Your chief characteristic. unpredictablity and unfaithfulness

Your idea of happiness. marrying General Boulanger

Your idea of misery. being mother to a large family

Your favourite colour and flower. The colour which changes most, and the flower which doesn’t change

If not yourself, who would you be ? A cab-horse in Paris

Where would you like to live ? In Mr Wilson’s heart

Your favourite prose authors. M. Pellerin, the author of famous pictures

Your favourite poets. The ones who don’t write verse

Your favourite painters and composers. Me

Your favourite heroes in real life. Pranzini or Tropmann (depending)

Your favourite heroines in real life. Louise Michel

Your favourite heroes in fiction. Richard III

Your favourite heroines in fiction. Lady Macbeth

Your favourite food and drink. Anything made by Merlatti (love and cold water)

Your favourite names. Abdonide, Joséphyr, Alphée, Boulang

Your pet aversion. Maids, coachmen and models

What characters in history do you most dislike ? They’re all horrible

What is your present state of mind ? It’s too difficult to say

For what fault have you most toleration ? I tolerate all my own faults, but none of anyone else’s.

Your favourite motto. A bird in the hand is worth two « in the bush »

Cam Claudel 16 May 1888.

Inv. L.1451, archives musée Rodin, Paris

My cruel friend,

My poor head is really bad, and I can no longer get up in the morning. Last night, I wandered around (for hours) without finding you in any of our places. Death would be welcome! and my death throes are so long.   Why did you not wait for me in the workshop. where are you going? such pain was reserved for me I have moments of forgetfulness where I suffer less, but today, the relentless pain is back.   Camille, my beloved in spite of everything, in spite of the madness I feel coming on, and which will be your doing if this continues.   Why do you not believe me?   I have given up my sculpture exhibition ; If I could go anywhere at all, a country where I could forget, but there is no such place.   There are times when, to be honest, I think I will forget you.   But then, moments later, I feel your terrible power.   Have pity, cruel one. I cannot manage any more, I can no longer spend a single day without seeing you.   Otherwise it’s horrible madness.  It’s over, I can’t work any more, you pernicious goddess, yet I love you with a passion. 

My Camille please believe that I love no other woman, and all my soul belongs to you. 

I cannot convince you, and my reasons are useless.   You don’t believe in my suffering, I cry and you doubt me.   I have not laughed for a long time, I do not sing any more,  everything seems bland and indifferent to me.   I am already dead and I no longer understand the trouble I have given myself over things which are so unimportant to me now. Let me see you every day, that will be a good deed, and maybe it will be better for me, for you alone can save me by your generosity. 

Do not let this slow and hideous disease take over my intelligence, the ardent and pure love I have for you; finally have pity, my darling, and you yourself will be rewarded for it.


I kiss your hands, my love, you who give me such heights of pleasure, so passionate, near you my soul exists with such force and, in the passion of love, respecting you is always foremost. The respect I have for your character, for you my Camille is a cause of my violent passion. do not treat me pitilessly I ask so little of you. 

Do not threaten me and see for yourself if your hand, so soft, shows your kindness to me and sometimes leave there, so that I can kiss it in my transports of delight. 

 I have no regrets. Not the ending, which seems gloomy to me, my life will fall into an abyss.   But my soul has had its flowering, albeit late.   I only had to know you, and to take all I could from an unknown life,, my dull existence blazed up into a glorious bonfire.   Thank you for it is to you that I owe the only part of Heaven that I have had in my life. 

Your dear hands left them on my face, may my flesh be happy that my heart still feels your divine love spreading over me once more.   How drunk I feel, when I’m with you.   Near you, when I think that I still have this happiness, and I grumble about it. and in my cowardice, I believe I have ended up being unhappy, which I am, to the end. Not as long as there a little bit of hope so little a drop, I must make the most of the night, later, the next night. 

Your hand, Camille, not the one which takes itself away, not the happiness of touching it if it is not the pledge of a little of your affection. 

Ah! divine beauty, flower which speaks, and loves, clever flower, my darling. My most beloved, on both knees in front of your beautiful body, which I embrace.


Inv. MS.362, archives musée Rodin, Paris

Mr Rodin

As I have nothing to do, I am writing to you again.

You can imagine how good it is at L’Islette. 

I ate today in the middle room (which is used as a greenhouse) from which we can see the garden on both sides. Mme. Courcelles suggested (without my speaking about it in the least) that if that was nice you could eat there from time to time, or even always (I think she would really like that) and it’s so pretty there! … 

I walked in the park, everything is mowed, hay, wheat, oats, you can wander everywhere; it’s charming. If you are nice, and keep your promise we will know what paradise is like. You will have the room you want to work in. The old woman will be at our knees, I believe.

She told me that I [missing word: could?] take baths in the river, where her daughter and the maid take them, without any danger.

With your permission, I will do so because it will be such a pleasure, and will save me from going to the hot baths at Azay. Would you be kind enough to buy me a little swimming costume, in dark blue with white trimming, and in two pieces – a blouse and pantaloons (medium size) – at the Louvre or at the Bon Marché (in serge) or in Tours.

I am going to bed quite naked, to make myself believe that you are there, but when I wake up it’s no longer the same thing

With my love


Above all, don’t be unfaithful to me again.

On the wall to the left, as you enter the common room


I am back in Paris. I could not bring all my things back from l’Islette, as it would have cost me too much. It was agreed that I will come back next year.  I got a little bit carried away. Only I paid 300 f to Mad Courcelles, and 100 f to the moulder ; 60 f for travel and the extra luggage, rooms, etc. I still have 20 f and I have only brought back a group and a bust my clothes my books my drawings etc. I had lunch at the Vaissiers, who were very kind and put my mind at rest.


Inv. MS.376, archives musée Rodin, Paris 

Mr Rodin
182 rue de Université, Paris

I was away when you came, because my father arrived yesterday, I had dinner & slept at our house. So far as my health goes I am not very well as I cannot stay in bed having to get up and walk about every few moments. I will probably not leave until about Thursday. By the way Mlle Vaissier came to see me and told me all sorts of nonsense invented about me at l’Islette. It seems that I go out at night through the window of my tower, hanging from a red parasol with which I start fires in the forest!!!

Inv. MS.365, archives musée Rodin 

Mr Rodin

You made Le Bossé ask me to write to you with my opinion on your statue of Balzac: I think it is very big and very beautiful and the best of all your sketches of that same subject. Especially the very accentuated effect of the head which contrasts with the simplicity of the drapery and is absolutely appropriate and striking. I also really like the idea of the floating sleeves which perfectly express the casual, witty man [missing words: that is?] Balzac. In short, I believe that you should expect a great success especially from real connoisseurs who will not find any comparison between this statue and all those with which until now the city of Paris has been ornamented.

I take the opportunity to speak to you a little about my own doings. Recently Morhardt has made me order through the Mercure de France 10 busts of you in bronze which will be sold for 300 f each by this newspaper: so I will get over 280 f there [paper torn: on?] which [word missing, paper torn] pay the caster [word missing, paper torn: I must?] also pay for the engraver’s work, that is to take out the seams and engrave a caduceus. I have accepted this order without realising how much work it would give me but just engraving the caduceus takes a day and five or six days to remove the seams properly: I beg you to tell Morhardt that I cannot go ahead with these busts; I don’t have 1000 f to pay out of my own pocket just to hear myself called a prodigy later on, and orders of this type are more often to make people believe [word missing, paper torn] that they only really have them to help them.

You did well to stop Morhardt from publishing the article he had written about me, it would have brought down all sorts of anger and revenge on me and I certainly do not need that.

You may be wrong to believe in the Morhardts’ complete good will towards me they rather pretend but I believe that in fact their whole clan does not like to see me getting orders, or being appreciated and it would be better if all the Morhardts’ efforts were put to use for Raymond Vernet and who are from the same country and the same religion and the wives are close friends of Mme. Morhardt. You know besides what black hatred all women feel for me as soon as they see me appear, until I go back into my shell, we use all the weapons, and what is more as soon as a generous man steps in to get me out of trouble the wife is there to hold him back and stop him.    And so I may well never reap the fruit of all my efforts and will fade away in the shadows of slander and evil suspicions.

What I tell you is absolutely secret and it is for you to judge the situation clearly.

I’ve been ill for some time, that’s why I delayed writing to you.  Old Mother Courcelles came to make me pay 1000f for having left some plasters at her house, first of all I wanted to attack her and then I was afraid.

 If you can find some way of getting your Dante back, by saying that you had just forgotten about it being there, I would be really pleased

With my warmest friendship

C. Claudel

(copied by his secretary)
Inv. L.1394, archives musée Rodin, Paris

182 rue de l’Université
2 December 1897

My dear friend. Your letter has added to my worries. I see that you are up against life’s difficulties, as well as your imagination, a little. 

So long as we are not completely sure that our friends have changed, we must remain faithful to our friends. In life there are some of them; if you misunderstand them you no longer have their support. For a long time, Morhardt has seemed to me to be your devoted friend, I have not seen or suspected any cooling off towards you. for without that her husband could not help you, if it was not in secret, and that is not the case for Madame Courcelles. There is a solicitor who works on protecting artists, he is a friend of mine.  If you want to see him on my behalf, here is the address. Auzoux 118 rue de Rivoli 118

For me, it is difficult for me to ask for the dante because in an old letter I told her I’d take her wine if she gave me back the plaster.   So there is, I believe, a reason to abide by the old gift.   Especially since I had to thank her for the wine she sent us in the past, and so this probably shows it was an exchange. 

I’m not sure about all this. but I gave it to her and I cannot take it back. I’m sorry to see you so upset, and taking a path that I know so well, unfortunately. I know you have the ability of sculpture. You have the faithfulness of a heroine, you are an honest person a good person. in the struggle that you manage so well, and this makes you are admired and known to all, do not trouble yourself over gossip, above all do not lose your friends by capricious behaviour everyone will help you, if you want them to. Do not talk and work the way you do. Your reputation is reaching its goal. But what irony when you are not happy, that illusory feeling, what terrible years I spent. I can hardly begin to recognize myself. These days, and the kindness with which you have judged my balzac make me a little more confident because I needed your advice in the black despair where I was left, for dead I think. 

I wish that one day you would come to see my balzac which I had cast in a very light way and which I’m going to put in the courtyard  some time to see the effect in the open air.   Out there, you could consider it with me 

and believe me my friend, release your female character which spreads out good will.   Show your wonderful works, there is justice, just believe in it. The one is punished and the other is rewarded. Genius like yours is rare.

As for the article, I think it must Morhardt who is publishing it. I made the observation for a few words which could bring trouble down on you. But all in all it’s beautiful beautiful. and should seem so.

For the bronzes we must continue without caduceus without removing the seams, this does not concern you.

I don’t know, my dear friend, if this poor letter will please you I’m different I was so ill and it frightens me to know that you are not well.

I’m afraid: for God does not fall into vexations which cannot be solved: smooth over everything you can and don’t let bad luck spoil anything you can’t protect Your future is so beautiful. Do not neglect anyone, not the most unimportant worker or servant, for all these details become instruments of torture for someone who is already tired, and who has taken on like you the great struggle with the terrible angel who protects the unhappy world from geniuses like you.  gentleness and patience

The late Courtry made an admirable etching from your bust which I’m going to send you.

Your friend and one of your most sincere admirers who kisses your hands