Mad Enchantment

Mad Enchantment

Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies

Book - 2016
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Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

From bestselling author Ross King, a brilliant portrait of legendary artist Claude Monet and the story of his most memorable achievement, the water lilies.

Claude Monet is perhaps the world's most beloved artist, and among all his creations, the paintings of the water lilies in his garden at Giverny are most famous. Seeing them in museums around the world, viewers are transported by the power of Monet's brush into a peaceful world of harmonious nature. Monet himself intended them to provide "an asylum of peaceful meditation." Yet, as Ross King reveals in his magisterial chronicle of both artist and masterpiece, these beautiful canvases belie the intense frustration Monet experienced at the difficulties of capturing the fugitive effects of light, water, and color. They also reflect the terrible personal torments Monet suffered in the last dozen years of his life.

Mad Enchantment tells the full story behind the creation of the Water Lilies , as the horrors of World War I came ever closer to Paris and Giverny, and a new generation of younger artists, led by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, were challenging the achievements of Impressionism. By early 1914, French newspapers were reporting that Monet, by then 73 and one of the world's wealthiest, most celebrated painters, had retired his brushes. He had lost his beloved wife, Alice, and his eldest son, Jean. His famously acute vision--what Paul Cezanne called "the most prodigious eye in the history of painting"--was threatened by cataracts. And yet, despite ill health, self-doubt, and advancing age, Monet began painting again on a more ambitious scale than ever before. Linking great artistic achievement to the personal and historical dramas unfolding around it, Ross King presents the most intimate and revealing portrait of an iconic figure in world culture--from his lavish lifestyle and tempestuous personality to his close friendship with the fiery war leader Georges Clemenceau, who regarded the Water Lilies as one of the highest expressions of the human spirit.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury USA, 2016
ISBN: 9781632860125
1632860120
Characteristics: viii, 403 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates ; illustrations (some color), maps, geneal. tables ; 25 cm

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a
ayh
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.

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patcarstensen
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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