Sunday, December 27, 2009

searching for the real Camille

Who was she really, this woman Claude loved so much and lost so young? Sad how the great loves and models of so many artists have disappeared into the mists of time. She was born in Lyon in 1847, making her just seven years younger than the handsome Claude. And yet still, almost a century and a half after they met in Paris and fell in love, fragments of her life and personality are emerging. In 1947 a maid in the house of a descendant of Claude's best friend Bazille found a box of drawings, prints, and photographs, some sketches by Claude of her. Then some twenty years ago, a journal by an older friend of Monet's was found, describing her charm. And after this what do we have? The many paintings where her artist lover showed her not simply a female shape in the midst of light, but her lovely face. We have few portraits by Monet showing the clear features of his model, but Camille he painted clearly.

How does a novelist take such slender information and form a story? One can tell something of his intense feelings for her in that he truly painted her. She is 19 in this picture. I feel her elusiveness and his intense love.

The writer Ruth Butler also searched for Camille in her nonfiction book Hidden in the Shadow of the Master: The Model Wives of C├ęzanne, Monet, & Renoir.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait for the book. I'm really intrigued now. And know where I want to go when I get back to France. It's waaay too long since I was there.