The Fifth Muse







Etsy Shop

I am on Etsy and will periodically list  small scale sculpture.

Check out my shop here and perhaps you decide to have your own original piece by me:

This is the most recent purchase, as seen on the photos sent by one of my artist collectors. There is usually a personal story that connects with the piece and it is fascinating to me as an artist to hear those stories.

I love how the collector played with different background ideas in order to find the best place for this fun piece.


An Unusual Model and Three Sculptors

Her name was Caira and she was 82 years old. She had just been told she had cancer and she only had a few months to live. She wanted to see her son one last time, so she traveled to Paris from Italy. Her son was a model to sculptor Jules Desbois, who expressed interest in modelling her. The model persuaded his mother to pose for Desbois.

That is all the information I could find on the model. And her name. She must have been a very courageous woman to pose in the nude – at her age – more than a century ago. Was it love for her child that made her take the clothes off her weathered body? Whatever the reason, she inspired three wonderful sculptors to work with her:  Desbois, friend and assistant to Auguste Rodin, Rodin himself, and Camille Claudel, Rodin’s assistant, model and lover.

Desbois was the first sculptor to model her in terra cotta (Rodin had started working with her around the same time).  His work is titled “La Misere” (Misery).



How could “Misery” leave anyone unmoved? One feels inclined to throw away those rags, cover her in a blanket and tell her she will be alright. Desbois’ approach provokes a strong emotional response.








Rodin’s version, “She Who Was The Helmetmaker’s Once-Beautiful Wife” later became part of his monument, The Gates of Hell. His focus is on the physical appearance of the model. The work bluntly shows her exposed and aware of the ravages of time. And time is more cruel to women than men. “There is nothing ugly in art except that which is without character, that is to say, that which offers no outer or inner truth”, said Rodin.  He finds inner beauty in this woman – in her vulnerability and dignity even as she resigns herself to fate.

The most shocking, and the most original of the tree sculptures is Camille Claudel’s version of the model. Somewhat surprisingly for that era, this groundbreaking sculpture was well received at the Paris Salon.

Claudel envisions Caira as Clotho, one of the Fates, who spins the thread of destiny. Clotho is usually depicted as a young girl in the visual arts, but Camille chooses to show her as an old woman entangled in her thread. Her relationship with Rodin was falling apart around the same time she was working on Clotho, which explains her preoccupation with destiny.

The old woman resurfaced later as death in her most important work, The Age of Maturity.clotho


Photo by Ch.Baraja












What a wonderful gesture from this old woman, Caira, to trigger such powerful response by not one, but three great sculptors!