News

French Government honours Catz alum

Catz alumnus Richard Thomson (1971, Modern History) has been appointed as Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Commander of the Order of the Arts and the Letters).

The honours, given by the French Government, recognise an individual’s significant contribution to the arts or literature and comprise three grades: Commandeur (Commander), Officier (Officer) and Chevalier (Knight).

Richard was appointed Officer in 2012 and was promoted to Commander, the most senior rank, in 2018 (but due to the pandemic he only formally received his honour in 2022). A maximum of just 20 individuals may be appointed at this level each year.

Richard is currently Research Professor in the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh, having served there as the Watson Gordon Professor of Fine Art between 1996 and 2018.

He is a recognised expert on late nineteenth-century French art having undertaken research in the area for four decades. He has collaborated internationally on a number of significant exhibitions at major museums and galleries in Europe and the USA.

His exhibitions have been visited by more than five million people, with a Claude Monet retrospective held at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2010-11 reaching almost one million attendees alone.

In addition to his research and curatorial work, Richard has also held a number of senior positions in cultural organisations, including the scientific committee of the French National Institute of Art History and the Scientific Council of the Musée d’Orsay.

Commenting, Richard said: ‘I am extremely proud to have been awarded this great honour by the French government, and it has been an enormous privilege to work closely on research projects with such substantial public outreach in collaboration with French colleagues and institutions.’

The College sends its congratulations to Richard on this excellent achievement.

Image: Richard being appointed Commander by Madame Laurence Païs at the Consulate General of France in Edinburgh.

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