Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of Water Lilies
Written by Ross King
Published by Bond Street Books
Claude Monetís Water Lilies paintings in the Musťe de líOrangerie at the Jardin Tuileries rank among the greatest masterpieces of world art. Their creation came late in Monetís life when cataracts marred his sight, death struck his wife and son, and war raged close to his lily ponds at Giverny. Ross King brilliantly captures the furies of Monet and the enormous challenges he overcame in painting the twenty-two panels of lilies that surround LíOrangerie. An exceptional art historian, King grasps the political tempests of wartime France and his portrait of Monetís close friend, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, will be essential reading for all who want to understand the intersection of politics, nationalism, and culture in France during the First World War. In this elegantly written and superbly researched book, Ross King illuminates Water Lilies and Monet as no one has before.
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From the Publisherís Summary: Using letters, memoirs and other sources not employed by other biographers, and focusing on this remarkable period in the artistís life, Ross King reveals a more complex, more human, more intimate Claude Monet than has ever been portrayed, and firmly places his water lily project among the greatest achievements in the history of art. As World War I exploded within hearing distance of his house at Giverny, Monet was facing his own personal crucible. In 1911, his adored wife, Alice, had died, plunging him into deep mourning at age seventy-one. A year later he began going blind. Then, his eldest son, Jean, fell ill and died of syphilis, and his other son was sent to the front to fight for France. Within months, a violent storm destroyed much of the garden that had been his inspiration for some twenty years. At the same time, his reputation was under attack, as a new generation of artists, led by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, were dazzling the art world and expressing disgust with Impressionism. Against all this, fighting his own self-doubt, depression and age, Monet found the wherewithal to construct a massive new studio, seventy feet long and fifty feet high, to accommodate the gigantic canvases that would, he hoped, revive him.
is the author of The Judgment of Paris, Brunelleschiís Dome, Michelangelo and the Popeís Ceiling, Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven and Leonardo and the Last Supper. His work has twice won the Governor Generalís Award for Non-Fiction and has been shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize. Born and raised in Canada, he holds degrees from the University of Regina, York University in Toronto and University College, London. He now lives near Oxford, England.