April 15, what an horrific heart stopping night. In 1996 Paris was a delicious wonderment to me, my daughter was living on the Quai des Grands Augustins, Notre Dame was the view from the apartment windows, a stones throw. Solitary early morning walks around the Ile de la Cite, before the bustle, were a joy. Pleasure made treasure when I discovered that tucked away amongst the grand bourgeois town houses was the studio of Camille Claudel. She had lived at 19 Quai de Bourbon. If you had been fortunate enough to be tutored by marble chipping, bronze casting wax fiddlers then Rodin would have been part of your staple diet, and in the great shadow cast by the master you might have caught sight of the precocious and precious talent of Camille Claudel.
Camille was Rodin's pupil, assistant, lover and ultimately artistic rival. Rodin loved her then scorned and abandoned her. She was also abandoned by her family after her father's death and committed to an asylum by her brother, where she spent the last thirty years of her life, despite efforts by many to get her released. Her life reads like a beach holiday novel but her work was sublime, it offers a tenderness and insight that Rodin's work seldom exhibited. She is now considered France's foremost female sculptor
So watching the tragedy of the great Cathedral burning on France 24 took me back to those few days, two decades ago, when I daily stalked the ghost of Camille on the Quai de Bourbon, happier Paris times.
AGED AND AWKWARD