Camille Claudel, Rodin's pupil and lover, often posed for him and the sculptor made several portraits of her. Léonce Bénédite tells that, as was often the case, it was when he was working on the sculpture that Rodin decided not to take it any further and to leave the block rough hewn below the head. The work was then called Thought Emerging from Matter.The marble was given to Musée du Luxembourg – Musée des Artistes Vivants – in 1902.
The face is tilted forward, in shadow, and seems to be plunged in a reverie, with the eyes fixed on something invisible. The contrast between the perfectly polished flesh and the roughly hewn block intensifies the impression of an apparition and gives the work Symbolist depth.