From bestselling author Ross King, a brilliant portrait of the legendary artist and the story of his most memorable achievement.
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. Monet intended the water lilies 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 in trying to capture 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 seventy-three, had retired his brushes. He had lost his beloved wife, Alice, and his eldest son, Jean. His famously acute visionwhat 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.
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About the Author
Ross King is the author of Brunelleschi's Dome, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, The Judgment of Paris, Leonardo and The Last Supper, and others. 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, the Smithsonian, the Aspen Institute, and the Frick Collection, and in Florence, Milan, Paris, and Giverny. He lives near Oxford with his wife, Melanie.
Table of Contents
Monet Family Tree xii
Chapter 1 The Tiger and the Hedgehog 1
Chapter 2 Du Côté de Chez Monet 17
Chapter 3 Landscapes of Water 35
Chapter 4 A Great Project 49
Chapter 5 Into the Unknown 69
Chapter 6 A Grande Décoration 85
Chapter 7 A Grand Atelier 99
Chapter 8 Under Fire 117
Chapter 9 A State of Impossible Anxiety 133
Chapter 10 The Smile of Reims 151
Chapter 11 The Weeping Willow 171
Chapter 12 This Terrible, Grand, and Beautiful Hour 185
Chapter 13 An Old Man Mad About Painting 199
Chapter 14 Men of Impeccable Taste 213
Chapter 15 A Grand Donation 225
Chapter 16 A Most Ardent Admirer 243
Chapter 17 The Luminous Abyss 261
Chapter 18 The Fatal Protuberance 271
Chapter 19 The Soul's Dark Cottage 293
Chapter 20 "Send Your Slipper to the Stars" 309
Epilogue The Prince of Light 327
Image Credits 348
Selected Bibliography 349