Ross King received a standing ovation this afternoon in Toronto when his name was announced as the winner of the 16th annual RBC Taylor Prize for Non-fiction.
His winning book, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies (Bond Street Books) tells the story of the iconic artist's final years, including the creation of his world famous Water Lilies series. Some of the best known pieces of visual art in the world, the Water Lilies series is the crowning glory in the career of one of the most beloved artists in history. It did not come easily to Monet, however; as King explores in his book, the creation of the Water Lilies was haunted by personal loss, war, and anxiety around professional relevance.
King will receive $25,000 as the prize purse. This is his second nomination and first win, having previously been nominated for Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven.
You can learn more about King and Mad Enchantment by checking out our video interview with King, produced exclusively for Open Book by the RBC Taylor Prize.
In addition, you can check out our Q&A with all five RBC Taylor Prize finalists, where King, who didn't yet know he would win, shyly told us he was too superstitious to plan any kind of celebration for after the prize announcement.
The jury, comprised of award-winning author Colin McAdam, award-winning author and historian John English, and journalist Ann MacMillan, praised Mad Enchantment in their citation, "Ross King brilliantly captures the furies of Monet and the enormous challenges he overcame in painting the twenty-two panels of lilies that surround L’Orangerie. An exceptional art historian, King grasps the political tempests of wartime France, and his portrait of Monet’s close friend, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, will be essential reading for all who want to understand the intersection of politics, nationalism, and culture in France during the First World War. In this elegantly written and superbly researched book, Ross King illuminates Water Lilies and Monet as no one has before."
The prize itself was announced by Noreen Taylor, chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation and founder of the award, which honours her late husband Charles Taylor.
The coming weeks, King will name his choice for the RBC Emerging Writer Prize, which was introduced to help encourage and support non-fiction writers in the early stages of their careers. Each year, the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize is invited to choose an emerging writer to receive the $10,000.