Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin
Can true love survive professional rivalry? When Rodin met Camille in 1883, he was 41 and heading into his most mature and brilliant creative period. She was, at 18, a young student who longed to become a sculptor. The Ecole des Beaux Arts didn't allow women to enrol as students, so she and some female friends rented their own workshop. Rodin was their teacher. She so impressed him that he took her into his own workshop, where she saw many of his masterpieces take shape. She inspired him, became his confidante, his model, his muse and his lover. They never lived together, though, because he wasn't free: for 20 years, he had had a relationship with a woman called Rose Beuret, the mother of his son, and couldn't bring himself to abandon her. Even so, Rodin and Camille's passionate, turbulent affair lasted for eight years. She stopped having sex with him after an unwanted abortion, but they remained amis amoureux until 1898. Five years later, an exhibition at the Salon des Artistes Français displayed her talent to the world - clearly influenced by her ex-lover in the early days, but with a lyricism and a decorative quality all her own. Then her mental health began to fail. She had a nervous breakdown in 1903, and spent the last three decades of her life in a mental asylum. Their tormented relationship became the subject of Ibsen's play When We Dead Awaken.