Camille Claudel, L’Âge Mûr (The Mature Age)
Claudel joined Rodin’s studio as an assistant in 1884. Some time later they became lovers — an affair that lasted until Rodin decided to move to Meudon and live with his long-term mistress (and mother of his son) Rose Beuret. The Mature Age can be read as an expression of Claudel’s futile effort to hold onto her lover, who is being led away by the older and uglier Beuret. Maturity, in Claudel’s rendering, represents a sad dying-down of emotion and a passive trudge toward death.
Claudel continued to work with Rodin, even after she had sculpted The Mature Age, which was shown in its plaster-cast form in 1899. In fact, it was Rodin himself who secured the commission for her from the state Director of Arts. In the film Camille Claudel (1989), Rodin expresses distress and anger that Claudel would exposed their failed relationship to public scrutiny in The Mature Age.
There are at least two levels of narrative here: the specific story of Claudel's rejection by Rodin, and the larger message of a man's abandonment of a woman who adores him.
According to one interpretation, the aged figure leading the man away represents old age and death.