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Archive for the ‘Ross King’ Category

I’m not a non-fiction fan but I am an Impressionist fan, Monet in particular. But the cover of Ross King’s book and the book’s title, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies both convinced me the book was worth a try. I’ve seen some of Monet’s water lily paintings and they are magnificent.

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies

I never really pictured Monet, never thought about his life or personality. I never thought about whether he was self-absorbed, whether he suffered for his art, how old he was when he passed away.

Ross King brought all of that into perspective. Mad Enchantment really covers the second half of Monet’s 80+ years, and paints an interesting, yet disturbing portrait of the artist (no pun intended). While I still hold Monet in high esteem for his talent, the (unearned) accompanying esteem for him as a person has diminished greatly. Instead, Monet comes across as a whiner, a self-centered individual who used his friends, fame and connections rather than cultivating them.

Image result for monet's water lilies

Ross describes art critics’ reviews of Monet’s works and I found very interesting, in particular, their discussion of the water lilies. Apparently water lilies represent the female form and so these water lilies represent women, especially nude female models that Monet’s jealous wife Alice wouldn’t let him paint. (I’m thinking they let their imaginations run wild!)  Art critics!

Monet was temperamental and prone to outbursts of such magnitude that he would slash and burn paintings by the hundreds. I can’t imagine his output if so many paintings were destroyed. At the same time it appears he was a perfectionist which explains the magnificence of his works.

In the end, Monet did suffer for his art. He had cataracts and one theory is that his constant viewing of his ponds with the sunlight reflecting off might have been a cause of the cataracts. What could be worse that an artist with impaired vision.

All in all, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies was an enlightening read.

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