(b. 1864, Fêre-en-Tardenois, d. 1943, Montdevergues)
Vertumnus and Pomona1905
Marble, height 92 cm
Musée Rodin, Paris
Even as she collaborated on Rodin's major commissions in the studio, Claudel continued her own creative work, which the master supported and attempted to promote. Claudel decided that her first major project would be an ambitious piece celebrating the triumph of love. She sculpted two big figures evoking a legendary Indian tale of Shakuntala by the poet Kalidasa. Full of intensity and emotion, this group is a marvel of affection and modest sensuality. Passion and desire are expressed with propriety and restraint. It combines both a debt to Rodin and her autonomous style. The patinated plaster won Claudel a honourable mention at the Salon des Artistes Français.
Later, by changing only the characters' attributes, a carefully polished marble version that Claudel produced in 1905 would be rechristened Vertumnus and Pomona.
Pomona, the classical goddess of fruit, and Vertumnus, the god of transformation, are the main figures in an episode in Ovid's Metamorphoses.