Tom Stammers is a cultural historian of France; His first book, ‘The Purchase of the Past’ (Cambridge University Press), won the 2021 RHS Gladstone Prize.

Pride and prejudice in 19th-century France

Depictions of lions by leading lights of the Romantic movement and more Academic types reveal humanity’s dark side

6 Mar 2024

The club for unconventional and international women who were ahead of their time

For 80 years, the Women’s International Art Club allowed artists to exhibit work that had yet to find wider acceptance

26 Oct 2023

Ingres and the endless quest for perfection

The painter was always reluctant to regard his paintings as finished and revisted some of his greatest compositions several times

8 Sep 2023

The sensational collections of the Sassoon family

Long after David Sassoon’s descendants had entered the highest echelons of English society, their collecting reflected the family’s ties to the Middle East, India and China

27 Feb 2023

Learning in style at the Bibliothèque nationale

The French national library’s exceptional collections now have the setting they deserve

30 Jan 2023
The Empress Eugénie (detail).

Committed to memory – how the Empress Eugénie kept the spirit of the Second Empire alive

Exiled in England, Napoleon III’s widow made sure that for as long she lived there was a corner of Hampshire that was forever France

24 Oct 2022
Detail of an advertisement for the Nouvelles Cartes de la République Française

Survivors’ gilt – the luxury craftsmen who flourished after the French Revolution

Iris Moon’s account of how masters of the decorative arts adapted to turbulent times is a suitably unsettling affair

30 May 2022
Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

How the Jewish aristocracy reinvented the European country house

In the late 19th century, Jewish families across Europe created homes that are monuments to the complexity of cosmopolitanism and integration

7 Apr 2022
Marie-Caroline, Duchesse de Berry sailing to exile in Scotland (c. 1830), unknown artist. Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Bordeaux.

The Romantics who revolutionised how we think about the past

Rosemary Hill’s nimble survey shows how 19th-century antiquarians paved the way for modern historians

21 Sep 2021
Statue of the nymph Amalthea and the goat that fed Jupiter, commissioned from Pierre Julien in 1787, inside the Queen’s Dairy at Rambouillet.

Grotto fabulous – Marie Antoinette’s decorative dairy was no rustic retreat

The dairy at Rambouillet was a masterpiece of neoclassical design

31 Jul 2021
From left to right: The Marquise Arconati-Visconti, photographed by the Atelier Nadar in 1900. Bibliothèque nationale de France / ‘Self-Portrait’ (detail) (c. 1880), Nélie Jacquemart. Musée Jacquemart-Andre, Paris / ‘Portrait of Marcello (The Duchess of Castiglione-Colonna) (detail) (1870), Gustave Courbet. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Reims

Rooms of their own – the female collectors who reshaped French society

The collecting of women has often been regarded as mere shopping, but the efforts of both princesses and professional artists are now receiving their rightful dues

29 Nov 2020
Le Rêve (detail) (1888), Édouard Detaille. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

‘The roll call of artists who donned a uniform in 1870 is remarkable’

The Franco-Prussian war led to lasting political change and left behind a rich visual record

16 Sep 2020
Carlton House: the Blue Drawing Room (detail; c. 1816), Charles Wild

Acquired taste – the fashion for French interiors in Britain

Dealers played a pivotal role in creating a demand for ancien–régime style across the Channel

22 Aug 2020
Horse Devoured by a Lion (exhibited 1763), George Stubbs. Tate, London

Animal instinct – George Stubbs at MK Gallery, reviewed

The painter’s forensic study of his subjects allowed him to portray them with a startling emotional depth

3 Jan 2020
Death of a Hunted Stag, photo: Dépot du Musée d'Orsay, photographie Charles Choffet

Gustave Courbet’s love of the chase

The painter’s monumental and often melancholy hunting scenes are well worth another look

2 Nov 2019
Amber casket in the shape of a three-story monument containing ivory figures, (c. 1660). Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. Photo: Waddesdon Image Library/Mike Fear

‘A very Rothschild type of display’ – Waddesdon’s new gallery, reviewed

The new permanent gallery presents all kinds of exquisite pieces with special family associations

20 Sep 2019

Can reconstructing historic collections give us the wrong idea about the past?

Reuniting objects that belonged to important collectors can be a visual treat, but there are some intellectual traps to be avoided

30 May 2019
Le Quai Saint Michel et Notre-Dame de Paris (detail; 1901), Maximilien Luce. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

‘Notre-Dame’s fortunes have merged with the destiny of France itself’

Over the centuries Notre-Dame de Paris has become much more than a place of worship – it is a symbol of a nation

18 Apr 2019
Caresses (detail; 1896), Fernand Khnopff. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Photo: J. Geleyns Art Photography

Modern art, with a Belgian flavour

Fernand Khnopff was among the most original artists of the fin-de-siècle – but his dreamlike images are unmistakably Belgian

22 Dec 2018
La Vachalcade, Fernand Pelez

Picturing poverty in the 19th century

In her final book Linda Nochlin makes a case for painting that looks poverty in the eye

27 Apr 2018

How the French Rothschilds turned their private passions into public gifts

A monumental new study argues that ‘the patronage of the French Rothschild family is a European history of taste’

14 Oct 2017
Andiron representing Psyche, , 1809, made by Pierre-Philippe Thomire, after a design by Charles Percier.

The man who created ‘dictator chic’

Charles Percier may not be a household name, but his Empire style sums up the Napoleonic era – and has had imitators ever since

16 Mar 2017

It’s time to look again at the golden age of sleaze and splendour

Was the French Second Empire as morally and artistically bankrupt as its critics made it out to be?

26 Sep 2016

Cavorting amid the ruins with Hubert Robert

The French artist’s obsessive portrayal of antiquity reveals his endless variety

2 Jun 2016