This bronze Torso of a Crouching Woman represents a fragmentary naked female body crouching on the floor, with no head or arms and the left knee cut off. The movement of the piece focuses on the perfectly mastered balance of the body. The weight rests firmly on the feet, which are in turn fully anchored to the ground. Harmoniously modeled, the back presents a splendid study of anatomy, with a masterful rendition of bones and muscles underneath the skin. From the contorted pose of the body and its fragmentary nature emanate expressions of pain, solitude, or fear.
This sculpture is characteristic of Claudel’s very personal and powerful rendering of the human body. While the back and the chest display a natural sensuality, the position of the body folded on itself and the deliberate fragmentary composition express introspective meditation, suffering, and the solitude of the individual faced with herself.
The creation of the Torso of a Crouching Woman dates from the early years of Claudel’s collaboration in Rodin’s studio. It is the result of Claudel’s reworking of her Crouching Woman, whose terracotta model she exhibited in 1885 at the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris (now lost). It is difficult to know precisely when Claudel decided to change her first composition by cutting off the head, the arms, and the left knee. Claudel knew the classical Crouching Aphrodite in the Louvre and was aware of the evocative power of sculptural fragments from Antiquity.