Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin
by Carole Lalonde
The present article will examine the birth charts of two famous French sculptors, Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin (The Thinker). The two artists, who worked together in Rodin’s studio for a time, were also entangled in a tumultuous love affair for some years. Rodin, who steadfastly remained with his wife, went on to achieve renown and glory, through generous contracts with the city of Paris as well as with rich patrons.
As for Camille, she was an extremely gifted artist who inspired Rodin and, as art historians now surmise, actually created some art works attributed to her teacher and lover. Her involvement with Rodin was too much for her frail mental balance. As she broke down, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and interned in an asylum until her death at age 78.
The analysis of both charts using what is termed as « planetary sect », reveals the influence of the three sect planets, at work in each chart, in an intricate, parallel and even symmetrical manner. As we shall see, their influence, sometimes benefic, sometimes malefic, built up to the climax of a career crowned with huge success in the case of Rodin and, for Camille, a missed rendez-vous with glory, at least in her lifetime.
Camille Claudel’s chart is nocturnal. For the modern observer, the Sun-Jupiter conjunction in Sagittarius in the 2nd house holds promise of wealth and fame, more so since it trines the Moon in Aries in 5th house, that of creativity. But Camille Claudel lived on the brink of extreme poverty during all of her artistic career; she never obtained a contract from the government, as compared to Rodin.
This is obviously not in line with the classic promise of abundance of Jupiter in Sagittarius conjunct Sun in the house of possessions, trine to the Moon! For the traditional astrologer, however, Jupiter, Sun and Saturn are not active elements here, since the chart is nocturnal. Rather, Jupiter and the Sun reflect the prestige of the men in her life, namely her father who had a certain social standing, her first teacher, Alfred Boucher, whose reputation spread, her lover and teacher Auguste Rodin, even her brother Paul, a well-known poet and writer.
To understand Camille’s tragic life, we must examine the workings of the nocturnal planets in her chart, namely Moon, Venus and Mars, as well as the diurnal planet Saturn, which becomes the malefic here.
The Moon stands in Aries in 5th house. Its trine to the fiery conjunction of Jupiter and Sun in Sagittarius well reflects a childhood of freedom, where she roamed through the countryside and played with the clay she found there; she molded and baked each small clay piece in the ancestral oven near her home. These biographical facts outline a precocious talent, sparkled by a willful and independent mentality.
Venus, being a nocturnal planet in a nocturnal chart, is also strong but afflicted. It squares its ruler and locks into an unhappy mutual reception with Saturn. For traditional astrology, mutual reception indicates two persons who know each other. Saturn squaring Venus points to the hopeless, conflicting relationship between a young woman and her mentor, who so awed her. The Saturn-Venus square, alongside with a highstrung Moon, underlines the emotional frustration which would rapidly build up and bring about her breakdown!
Last but not least of the nocturnal planets, Mars is Hayz. This Arab term indicates that the nocturnal planet fulfills its three conditions : it is in a nocturnal chart, in a diurnal hemisphere and in a diurnal sign (the exception for Mars, according to Robert Hand). The Hayz condition of Mars makes it extremely powerful, more so since it rules the Ascendant. However, Mars is retrograde (not a good thing for traditional astrology) and in an unfavorable house, the 7th. Also, Mars opposes the Jupiter – Sun conjunction.
Mars, ruler of Camille’s rising sign, is characteristic of the artist’s temperament : active, energetic. The following fact is interesting as regards the strength of Hayz Mars : Claudel’s contemporaries were amazed at the delicate young woman’s physical capacities as a sculptor. Some of her pieces were taller than she! She had a remarkable physical strength and energy, according to her biographers.
Let us listen to what Robert Hand has to say on the subject of a nocturnal Mars : The nocturnal Mars is not a wholly benevolent energy, but it more often manifests, according to the ancients, as a defensive, sustaining energy. »
The defensiveness underlined by Robert Hand is accentuated here as natal Mars is retrograde. As astrologers know, its expression may sometimes become destructive. In fact, in the midst of a paranoid fit, Camille, armed with a hammer, destroyed her own sculptures, lest Rodin might steal them!
It is interesting also to consider the opposition between Mars and the Sun-Jupiter conjunction in Sagittarius. Mars normally looks for confrontation. Facing Mars is the conjunction of Jupiter and Sun in Sagittarius. Sadly enough, Camille came to loathe the « bourgeois » comfort and values of her family and her lover, thus rejecting whatever material benefits her work and her association with Rodin might have brought her.
We will now look at Saturn, the malefic in this nocturnal chart. Saturn rules the third house and stands in twelfth. Camille’s hardships came from her lover (ruler of Venus) and her brother, who eventually signed the authorization to have her placed in an asylum. Further research in the family papers by historians and biographers has revealed that the asylum twice requested that their patient be released from the psychiatric ward as they judged her to be sane. But, sadly, the gifted artist was kept as an internee until her death in 1943.
Born at noontime, Rodin presents a diurnal chart. His early biography surprisingly describes numerous artistic failures, followed by late-blooming success. Just to mention a few of those difficulties : he came from a modest family. His first years in school were difficult : he was a shy, near-sighted pupil. He failed his examination three times at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts! For many years, Rodin worked as a low-paid craftsman in the daytime and as an artist at night. His studio was so cold that one of his sculptures once froze, then split! Also, he once presented a life-size sculpture and was accused of having molded it directly on the model!
Yet, despite his difficult rise to artistic recognition, in 1900, at age 60, he became known across the world! At the Exposition Universelle de Paris, 168 of his works were exposed to the public. Offers came in from everywhere! His fame lasted till his death.
As we mentioned earlier, his birth chart is diurnal. We must then consider the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn as being high-lighted in his chart. The Sun and Jupiter are conjunct and in the diurnal hemisphere. However, they are in a nocturnal sign ruled by Mars, the chart’s malefic. Mars’ rulership over Medium Coeli and the Jupiter-Sun conjunction may explain his earlier years of strife and struggle. ( Let us remember that Mars represents a man between ages 35 and 50).
As for Saturn, it is a diurnal planet in a diurnal sign, Sagittarius. Also, it is in a diurnal hemisphere, although close to 12th house cusp. Rodin long considered his artistic career a failure and thought of quitting. But Saturn is Hayz, just as Camille Claudel’s Mars was Hayz!
Here is what Robert Hand has to say on Saturn in a diurnal chart : « (It) produces the best qualities of Saturn, discipline, order and respect. It is even capable of indicating great success and social standing. » 
At age 60, Rodin was experiencing the 5th return of Jupiter and the second return of Saturn. This is when the Exposition Universelle revealed his work to the public and made him a celebrity.
As for Camille Claudel’s posthumous fame, it seems conceivable to the Pisces native (Aquarius rising) writing this article (!), that it arises from her essential dignities (Jupiter in Sagittarius conjunct Sun and trine Moon) shining brightly in the zodiacal sky, as her terrestrial houses slowly fade away…