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School of History

Dr Hannah Williams


Senior Lecturer in the History of Art

Telephone: 02078828360
Room Number: ArtsTwo 3.07


I am an art historian, specialising in the visual and material culture of France in the long eighteenth century. I have particular interests in social, material, religious, and urban histories of the Paris art world.

Prior to joining QMUL in 2019, I was a Junior Research Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford, a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at QMUL, and a Chercheure at École normale supérieure and C2RMF in Paris. I did my MA and PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and my BA at the University of Sydney.


Postgraduate Teaching

MA in Urban History & Culture

ULP5993 - Core Course 1 - Encountering the City
ULP5994 - Core Course 2 - Interpreting the City

Undergraduate Teaching


Research Interests:

My research focuses on various aspects of the Paris art world during the long 18th century. My first book, Académie Royale: A History in Portraits (Routledge, 2015), is a behind-the-scenes study of the most important art institution of early modern France. Through an innovative approach to portraits – their values, functions, and lives as objects – the book uses these often overlooked visual sources to uncover the fascinating histories (official and unofficial) of Paris’s principal artistic community.

I am currently completing two further book projects. Artists’ Things: Lost Property from 18th-Century France (Getty Publications, forthcoming), co-authored with Katie Scott, is a book about all kinds of ‘things’ that once belonged to artists. Through short essays unearthing the lives of individual objects, the book relates unfamiliar stories about some of France’s key artistic figures and explores an alternative history of 18th-century art via a material encounter with the art world. My other book project, Art and Religion: Inside the Parish Churches of 18th-Century Paris, investigates the crucial question of religion in Enlightenment France. Looking at the art created for Paris’s churches, the book uses material objects, spaces, and archival documents to explore religious life in the city and to challenge narratives of secularization in pre-Revolutionary France.

I am also interested in cartographic explorations of Paris’s art world and other ways of exploring the intersections of art history and urban history. In collaboration with Chris Sparks, I created Artists in Paris: Mapping the 18th-Century Art World, a website mapping artists’ studios in Paris and permitting new understandings of the cultural geography of the city. I am also involved in a collaborative project, with Charlotte Guichard and Anne-Solenn Le Hô, investigating histories of the pigment Prussian Blue in the intersecting worlds of art, chemistry, industry, and commerce in 18th-century Paris.

  • 18th-century French art and material culture
  • histories of Paris
  • art worlds, the artist’s studio / space, place, and social networks
  • religion and religious art in France
  • maps and mapping / digital art history



Artists’ Things: Lost Property from Eighteenth-Century Paris (co-authored with Katie Scott) (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, forthcoming 2022)

Académie Royale: A History in Portraits (New York: Routledge, 2015)

* Winner of the Prix Marianne Roland Michel (2011) – awarded by the Institut de France and the Fondation Marianne et Roland Michel


Artists in Paris: Mapping the 18th-Century Art World (co-created with Chris Sparks) –

* Awarded the BSECS Digital Resources Award 2021


Self/Portrait” (co-edited with Melissa Hyde), issue 8, Journal18 (Fall 2019)

Louvre Local”, issue 2, Journal18 (Fall 2016)


Artists and the City: Mapping the Art World of 18th-Century Paris”, Urban History, vol. 46, no. 1 (February 2019), 106-131 

Saint Geneviève’s Miracles: Art and Religion in Eighteenth-Century Paris”, French History, vol. 30, no. 3 (September 2016), 322-353

* Winner of the French History Article Prize (2016)

The Mysterious Suicide of François Lemoyne”, Oxford Art Journal, vol. 38, no. 2 (June 2015), 225-245

Academic Intimacies: Portraits of Family, Friendship, and Rivalry at the Académie Royale”, Art History, vol. 36, no. 2 (April 2013), 338-365 

A Phenomenology of Vision: the Self-Portraits of Jean-Étienne Liotard”, RIHA Journal, no. 34 (2012) 

“Romney’s Blank Canvas”, Rutgers Art Review, vol. 26 (2010), 34-48

Autoportrait ou portrait de l’artiste peint par lui-même? Se peindre soi-même à l’époque modern”, Images Re-vues, no. 7 (2009)

“Viewing libertinage in Charles-Antoine Coypel’s Children Playing at the Toilette (1728)”, immediations, vol. 1, no. 4 (May 2007), 76-91


“The Other Palace: Versailles and the Louvre”, in The Versailles Effect: Objects, Lives, and Afterlives of the Domaine, eds. Mark Ledbury and Robert Wellington (New York: Bloomsbury, 2021), 13-32 

“Drifting through the Louvre: A Local’s Guide to the French Academy”, in Eighteenth-Century Art Worlds: Global and Local Geographies of Art, eds. Stacey Sloboda and Michael Yonan (New York: Bloomsbury, 2019), 171-189

“Lebrun contre Mignard: rivalité dans le monde de l’art”, Querelles et création en Europe à l’époque moderne, eds. Jeanne-Marie Hostiou & Alexis Tadié (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2019), 243-260

“Staging Belief: Immersive Encounters and the Agency of Religious Art in Eighteenth-Century Paris”, The Agency of Display: Objects, Framings and Parerga, eds. Johannes Grave, Christiane Holm, Valérie Kobi, and Caroline Van Eck, (Dresden: Sandstein Verlag, 2018), 62-78

“Painters and Parish Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris: Art, Religion, and Sociability”, in Artistes, savants et amateurs: Art et sociabilité au XVIIIe siècle (1715-1815), eds. Jessica Fripp, Amandine Gorse, Nathalie Manceau, and Nina Struckmeyer (Paris: Mare & Martin, 2016), 101-11 

“Art and Things: Fragonard’s Colour Box”, in The Material Cultures of Enlightenment Arts and Sciences, eds. Adriana Craciun and Simon Schaffer (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), 157-159

 “Everyday Lives and Luxury Objects: François Boucher’s Shells and Charles-Antoine Coypel’s Watch” (Co-authored with Katie Scott), Le commerce du luxe, eds. Natacha Coquery & Alain Bonnet (Paris: Mare & Martin, 2015)

“Le peintre gravé et les graveurs peints: les portraits d’amitié de Hyacinthe Rigaud et ses graveurs”, Drückgraphik: Zwischen Reproduktion und Invention, eds. Markus Castor, Jasper Kettner, Christien Melzer, Claudia Schnitzer (Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2010), 55-66


“Drawing In / Drawing Out”, CLOSE: Drawn Portraits, exhibition catalogue (London: The Drawing Room, 2018), 15-29

“The Artist’s Studio in Eighteenth-Century London”, Response to “Looking for the Longitude”, British Art Studies, issue 2 (2016)

“Le Louvre de Demachy: le palais et le quartier au XVIIIe siècle”, Pierre-Antoine Demachy: le témoin méconnu, exhibition catalogue (Versailles: Musée Lambinet, 2014), 28-41


I welcome applications from candidates wishing to pursue doctoral research, especially in the following areas:

  • French art, architecture, visual & material culture
  • 18th-century French/European cultural history
  • social, material, and urban histories of art worlds
  • art history and digital humanities approaches (especially spatial and mapping projects)

Public Engagement



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