At the early age of 17, Clara Westhoff went to Munich, where she attended a private art school. In 1898, she moved to Worpswede and learned sculpture with Fritz Mackensen. She continued her studies in 1899 with Carl Seffner and Max Klinger in Leipzig, and in 1900 with Auguste Rodin in Paris, also attending the Académie Colarossi.
In 1901, she married the poet Rainer Maria Rilke in Worpswede. Eighteen years later, in 1919, she moved to Fischerhude with her daughter, Ruth Rilke.
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