Bloomsbury. 2016. c407p. illus. bibliog. appendix. index. ISBN 978-1-63286-012-5. $30.00. (hardback) ISBN 978-1-63286-013-2. $19.00. (paperback) ISBN 978-1-63286-014-9. $19.99. (ePub) ISBN 978-1-53666-713-4. $9.99 (audio MP3-CD).
In this nicely-presented and generously-illustrated (58 black-and-white and 20 color reproductions) book, Canadian bestselling author and lecturer Ross King (Ph.D., English Literature, York University, Toronto, Canada) recounts the extraordinary story of how the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) struggled during World War I to paint the series of water lily paintings that came to be known as the Grand Decoration. These paintings eventually were installed in the Orangerie Museum in Paris, France in 1927 shortly after the artist died. One of the world’s most beloved, best-known, wealthiest, and celebrated French painters during his lifetime and afterwards, Monet was an iconic figure in world culture. During the 1890s, Monet began to paint, the flowers, trees, and other objects in his garden in Giverny, France, but it was not until after the loss of his second wife Alice in 1911 and his eldest son Jean in 1914 that Monet returned to painting and began to again vigilantly paint motifs from his garden. Chronicling Monet’s paramount achievement during a period of personal loss, political upheaval, and cultural turmoil, King recounts the personal and historical dramas unfolding around the artist as he created his last, and some would say, greatest masterpiece. In addition to setting forth the details of Monet’s lavish lifestyle, tempestuous personality, and longstanding relationships with family members, friends, and others, including those pertaining to his friendship with George Clemenceau (1841-1929), France’s two-time prime minister, King also retells how Monet was affected by cataracts, self-doubts, advancing age, World War I, and more. Intimate and revealing, this well-documented and scholarly publication by an award-winning (2017 RBC Taylor Prize Winner; Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist), bestselling author of literary nonfiction books about artists and their masterpieces significantly contributes to writings in the fields of art history and cultural history. It is very highly recommended for students, scholars, ambitious general readers, and others. It belongs in many large public, academic, and special library book collections. Review copy. Availability: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Bloomsbury Publishing USA