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Anyone who has stood before Claude Monet's monumental water lily paintings may recall feeling dissolved into their world of ineffable light and seemingly perfect tranquility.The title of Ross King's rich recounting of Monet's more than two decades of work on the masterpiece – "Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies" – reveals only about half of what this remarkable book contains.In King's telling, Clemenceau's friendship can also be seen to have helped save Monet himself – and preserve the water lily canvases, nearly 300 feet long in all, viewed today by about a million visitors a year at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris.During the war, when another son deployed to the front, Monet donated paintings to support the war effort but expressed guilt at continuing his artistic work while others fought.The French leader wanted an artistic monument to the war's sacrifices and success, and Monet proposed donating paintings from his water lily project.
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