Mad Enchantment

Mad Enchantment

Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies

Book - 2016
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Acclaimed historian Ross King paints the most nuanced, riveting and humane portrait yet of Claude Monet, arguably the most famous artist of the 20th century.

We have all seen--live, in photographs, on postcards--some of Claude Monet's legendary water lily paintings. They are in museums all over the world, and are among the most admired paintings of our time. Yet nobody knows the extraordinarily dramatic story behind their creation. Telling that story is the brilliant historian, Ross King--and in the process, he presents a compelling and original portrait of perhaps the most beloved artist in history.
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 71. 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 20 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, 70 feet long and 50 feet high, to accommodate the gigantic canvases that would, he hoped, revive him.
Using letters, memoirs and other sources not employed by other biographers, and focusing on this remarkable period in the artist's 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.
Publisher: Toronto : Bond Street Books, 2016.
ISBN: 9780385684620
Branch Call Number: 759.4 Monet-K
Characteristics: viii, 403 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm


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ser_library Dec 13, 2017

I learned enough from the first half of the book, enjoyed remembering my visit to Monet country

Aug 29, 2017

This book provides a perspective of World War I, Monet painting at this time, and a perspective of France and Paris at that time and during the war. The meaning of water lilies is interesting. Monet's eyesight reads like it was a challenge in his later years while painting. It struck me how he had faithful friends and surprising when he had initially cancelled his donation to the state. There was much drama and death in his life. I had wanted to see Giverny and the book reinforced that and the desire to visit the Orangerie.

CD_Librarian Apr 11, 2017

This is a beautiful, engrossing biography of a revered painter in his later years, struggling with depression, the loss of his wife and son, and rediscovering the compulsion to paint. Monet painted huge canvases from 1914 through the war and into the 1920s until he died, bequeathing some of the most magnificent of his paintings to France, begetting the Water Lilies exhibit in L'Orangerie. Giverny is a world class treasure, the garden that inspired his later works, and is now so lovingly restored and also open to the public.
Ross King also portrays the extraordinary friendship between Monet and George Clemenceau, the great French politician, who coaxed and cajoled the elderly painter to keep creating. This is a wonderful read for those who love biographies of creative people in our collective past. Winner of the 2017 RBC Charles Taylor Prize for non-fiction.

Mar 02, 2017

It so changes the water lily paintings to think of them being painted in the middle of WWI.

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