The Age of Maturity or Destiny or The Path of Life or Fatality

Camille Claudel (1864 -1943)



H. 121 cm ; W. 181.2 cm ; D. 73 cm


Cast by Frédéric Carvilhani, after 1913, title and signature on the base.

Gift of Paul Claudel, 1952.

The first version of The Age of Maturity, only a plaster of which is in our possession, dates from 1894-95 according to a letter sent by Claudel to her brother Paul, in December 1893, where she calls it her “three-figure group”. The sculptress envisaged including a tree leaning at an angle in the group to further underline her central idea of destiny.


The second version was commissioned by the French state in 1895, but although it was completed and paid for in 1898, it was never delivered by the artist. The first cast was made for a private client, Captain Tissier (Musée d’Orsay), and the plaster is thought to have been lost when the second bronze was cast by Carvilhani in 1913.


Often interpreted as an autobiographical work, illustrating Rodin hesitating between his ageing mistress and his young lover, the very well-constructed sculpture above all appears as a variation on the theme of destiny. In the first version, the man is still held firmly by youth and life, whereas in the second version, unable to resist being led away, he is pulled from the outstretched arms of the young imploring woman by old age and death. The tormented drapery and strong use of shadow show the influence of Art Nouveau aesthetics on this second version.


Photo : © ADAGP, Paris, 2012

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