The First World War was notably a period of creative impotence as artists struggled to respond to the scale of the horror, with one notable exception, Claude Monet. Struggling with his ever-diminishing vision, he raced to finish his life’s work, creating an extraordinarily vast catalogue of wartime works, far more than any other artist during that period. Between 1914 and Monet’s death a dozen years later in 1926, Monet produced just over 200 paintings, many of which he grouped into a series on an immense scale, hitherto unimaginable, which he called “Les Grands Decorations”. He needed to create a cavernous studio on his property in Giverny simply to have enough space to work on them. He would paint quickly in summer while the light was good, and then spend his winters filling in the details. He also destroyed a vast number of canvasses, frustrated by his failing vision, which would cause him to make mistakes and, in his words, “to ruin them”.

Monet’s late super-creativeperiod was the subject of the Flowers of Warconcert at the National Gallery of Australia, at the end of September. It told the story of how French Impressionism, both in Art and Music was...

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