La Valse or Les Valseurs (The Waltz in English) is my favourite sculpture, I can remember the first time I saw a picture of it in an art history book years ago. I didn’t know anything about Camille Claudel, the artist who had create such a beautiful and emotional representation of a couple dancing.
The sculpture is a bronze of a woman and a man dancing a waltz and the drapes trailing behind them in motion. When you look at them, you can see the passion of their embrace, they’re two bodies immersed in the dance as the only important thing was that moment, you can almost hear the melody of the waltz they’re dancing. They are dancing without looking directly, with the head of the female figure reclining towards the left side
The Waltz is considered to be the most personal work of Claudel, to some critics this sculpture is expressionist and autobiographical at the same time that exposes the deepest essence of love.
The original work was in plaster, in this first version the artist represents the couple of dancers naked, dragged by their swing in a whirlwind represented by the drape movement, the dancer is suspended from her rider, to the limit of the point of rupture of his equilibrium.
After the criticism judged the work as indecent and inappropriate, Camille decided to dress them with drapery for a version less erotic but still sensual, so the state could acquire the work. In 1893, she exhibited the new plaster version at the painting and sculpture exhibition of the National Society of Fine Arts.
In 1905, a version again modified in 1901, is published in numerous bronze copies by the foundry and art dealer Eugène Blot.
The version in bronze is in Musée Rodin, but there is another version in flamed sandstone that belongs to the collection of Musée Camille Claudel. If you want to know more about the Camille Claudel’s museum and its collection, I wrote a post months ago about it that you can see here.
The heroines of Camille Claudel do not look at the viewer or his partner. Their partners do not exchange a single glance. Prisoners of her solitude, Shakuntala and the waltz woman close their eyes to love, attentive to their own pleasure, trying to grasp an ephemeral voluptuousness.”