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Mad Enchantment: Book summary and reviews of Mad Enchantment by Ross King

Mad Enchantment

Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies

by Ross King

Mad Enchantment by Ross King X
Mad Enchantment by Ross King
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  • Published Sep 2016
    416 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

Linking great artistic achievement to the personal and historical dramas unfolding around it, Ross King presents an intimate and revealing portrait of celebrated artist Claude Monet.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. King is ever the brilliant docent murmuring the right, telling details and critical backstories in our ear as we move through space and time. He ultimately brings the man and his work into perfect focus while increasing his audience's interest in both all the more...This work is essential. " - Library Journal

"Starred Review. King elegantly reveals the soul of a great artist, the last impressionist standing at the end of one of history's most remarkable art movements." - Kirkus

"Never before has the full drama and significance of Monet's magnificent Water Lilies been conveyed with such knowledge and perception, empathy and wonder." - Booklist

This information about Mad Enchantment was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Ross King

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 Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power, along with two novels, Ex Libris and Domino. 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, the Smithsonian, the Aspen Institute, and the Frick Collection, and in Florence, Milan, Paris, and Giverny. Born in Canada, he now lives near Oxford with his wife, Melanie.

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