Join us for this fascinating lecture inspired by author Ross Kings’s book, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. Dr. Ross King is an award-winning art historian who has published books on French, Italian, and Canadian art and history. His works include Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling and Leonardo and the Last Supper.
Claude Monet is perhaps the world’s most beloved artist. Among all his creations, the paintings of the water lilies in his garden at Giverny are the 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 these beautiful canvases belie the intense frustration Monet experienced at the difficulties of capturing the fugitive effects of light, shade, depth and color. Their calmness and beauty also conceal the terrible personal torments — the loss of loved ones, the horrors of World War I, the infirmities of age — that he suffered in the last dozen years of his life.
Mad Enchantment, King’s latest book, tells the full story behind the creation of the Water Lilies. The history of these remarkable canvases begins early in 1914, when French newspapers began 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, this time on a more ambitious scale than ever before.