Tom Stammers

Tom Stammers’s The Purchase of the Past won the 2021 Gladstone Prize.

On 20 December 1857​, Eugène Delacroix recorded his thoughts on seeing his studio on rue Notre-Dame de Lorette being dismantled. ‘My ambition is bounded by these walls,’ he wrote in his journal. ‘I enjoy the last moments available to me to feel myself still in this place which has seen me for so many years and in which was spent the great part of the latter period of...

He is cubic! Wagnerism

Tom Stammers, 4 August 2022

In​ 1975 Angela Carter published a withering review of a star-studded production of Die Walküre, staged in the Roman amphitheatre at Orange. The classical setting was not Norse-friendly; the acoustics were horrible; the evening temperatures plummeted; and the wind wreaked havoc on the singers’ voices (Carter thought it was ‘probably blowing directly from Israel’). Of...

No Looking Away: Solo Goya

Tom Stammers, 16 December 2021

The first​ academic book I read on Goya was by Fred Licht, for whom Goya distilled the ‘modern temper’ in art. It was thrilling stuff. Goya, it seemed, was a rebel and a nihilist, who profaned the nude, renounced the Enlightenment, mocked the royal family, championed the masses and anticipated war photography. His work contained in embryo much of modern art to come. I...

Rosa Bonheur set about trampling ideas of feminine decorum in the pursuit of professional excellence. De­termined to understand animal anatomy close­up, she waded into the Abattoirs du Roule and conducted her own dissections; eager to explore the Pyrenees, she applied for formal permission to travel in male at­tire and was granted an exemption from the arcane law against cross-­dressing.

Down with Weathercocks: Mother Revolution

Tom Stammers, 30 November 2017

On 19 June​ 1790 the Prussian nobleman Jean-Baptiste du Val-de-Grâce, baron de Cloots, appeared at the bar of the French National Assembly. Five years earlier, he had left Paris in disgust at monarchical despotism, vowing not to return until the Bastille – its most notorious symbol – had fallen. Now he led a delegation of foreigners pleading the right to participate in the...

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