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—in museums around the world—are most famous. Monet himself intended them to provide “an asylum of peaceful meditation.” Yet, as Ross King reveals in his magisterial chronicle of both artist and his masterpieces, beneath the surface of these beautiful canvases lies remarkable drama, and they 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, 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.
Ross King is the author of Brunelleschi’s Dome, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, The Judgment of Paris, and Leonardo and the Last Supper. He has twice won Canada’s Governor General’s Award, and his work has been nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Charles Taylor Prize, and the National Award for Arts Writing. He has lectured at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian and in Florence, Milan, Paris, and Giverny. He lives near Oxford with his wife, Melanie.
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.