This Persée et la Gorgone or Petit Persée, executed between 1903 and 1905 by Camille Claudel, emerged at a sale in Caen, whetting more than a few appetites.
The final price of €270,000 for this work was a delightful surprise for its latest owners, who were unsure of its authenticity before its assessment by an expert. A French buyer carried off the piece, which is all the rarer as there are only six extant copies to date. The original of this work with its swirling composition was a large marble exhibited in 1902, the last time Camille Claudel took part in the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-arts: a sculpture reproduced here in a three-quarters reduction. It was cast by the dealer and foundry owner Eugène Blot (1857-1938), who promoted the work of Camille Claudel and represented her in his gallery on the Boulevard de la Madeleine. In December 1905 he devoted an exhibition to her with eleven bronzes, including Persée in pride of place, which became part of the gallery owner's permanent collection. Like many works by the sculptor, this one is probably largely autobiographical: she may well have reflected her own state of mind, lending her features to the Gorgon's head cautiously brandished by the Greek hero. Later, her brother Paul said that "Persée et la Gorgone is the most tragic of all her works."