Professor Thomas teaches various aspects of European and American art and architecture from the 18th to 20th centuries, as well as the first-year survey of western art. A specialist in 19th-century French art, he has published Art and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century France: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau (Princeton, 2000) and Impressionist Children: Childhood, Family, and Modern Identity in French Art (Yale, 2010). Recent research has focused on artistic interactions between Europe and China in the 18th and 19th centuries, part of a long-term study of the Chinese palace of Yuanming Yuan. He has published two major articles on Yuanming Yuan and its looting (in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Autumn 2008; and in Art History, February 2009), along with other essays on landscape painting and ecology, Impressionism, and French and British engagement with Chinese culture. He is also the assistant editor of the 13-volume Wuming (No Name) Painting Catalogue, (Hong Kong University Press, 2010), which surveys the Wuming group of painters active in Beijing in the 1970s.
“Yuanmingyuan on Display: Ornamental Aesthetics at the Musée Chinois,” in Collecting and Displaying China’s ‘Summer Palace’ in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France, ed. Louise Tythacott (New York and London: Routledge, 2018), 149-167.
“Chinoiserie and Intercultural Dialogue at Brighton Pavilion,” in Qing Encounters: Artistic Exchanges between China and the West, ed. Petra ten-Doesschate Chu and Ning Ding (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2015), 232-247.
Impressionist Children: Childhood, Family, and Modern Identity in French Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010).
“Yuanming Yuan/Versailles: Intercultural Interactions between Chinese and European Palace Cultures,” Art History 32, no. 1 (February 2009), 115-143.
Art and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century France: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).