BA (Cantab), MA, PhD (Courtauld, University of London) 


Contact details

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House




Dr Tom Nickson

Tom Nickson read Art History at Cambridge, and it was while walking the roads to Santiago de Compostela on a cheap student holiday that he first discovered his love of Spanish medieval art and architecture. He moved to the Courtauld Institute for his MA (2005), and in 2009 received his PhD from the Courtauld. He was lecturer in medieval art and architecture at the University of York from 2009, and then returned to the Courtauld in 2012. He is co-editor of the visual arts issue of the Hispanic Research Journal, council member of the British Archaeological Association, and Chair of ARTES, a charity dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of Iberian and Latin American visual culture.

Tom investigates two areas that intersect in the Iberian Peninsula. Research in the early stages of his career focused on gothic art and architecture across Europe, particularly its relationship to sacred and profane uses of space. Recent work interrogates the connections between art and belief in medieval Iberia, particularly as a consequence of encounters between Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions. He is currently completing a book, provisionally entitled ‘Toledo Cathedral: Art & Belief in Medieval Castile’. This work provides a new history of Spain's primatial cathedral, analysing its architecture, urban setting, decoration and liturgy as a way of addressing issues of wider significance for the Iberian Peninsula.

Research Interests

  • The spread of gothic architecture in medieval Europe and technologies of architectural transmission.
  • 19th- and 20th-century architectural criticism and revivalism.
  • Relationships between text, orality, performance and material culture.

Courses taught 2012-14


Tom is particularly interested in hearing from students thinking of pursuing doctoral research in the fields of art, architecture and visual culture in medieval Europe (and its historiography), and cultural exchange in the medieval Mediterranean.

Doctoral Students

  • 'Decorative Vaults in Fourteenth-Century England'
  • 'The Lost Romanesque Cathedral of Tortosa: 1148-1347'


In preparation

  • 'Toledo Cathedral: Art & Belief in Medieval Castile' (book)
  • 'Gates of Paradise: Magic, Epigraphy and Ritual in Reconquest Iberia' (article)
  • 'Remembering Fernando. Multi-lingual inscriptions in medieval Iberia', in Viewing texts: Inscriptions as image and ornament in the Late Antique and Medieval Mediterranean, eds A. Eastmond & E. James (CUP).


  • 'The First Murder: Picturing Polemic c. 1391', in The Hebrew Bible in the Fifteenth Century: Exegesis, Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts (eds Jonathan Decter and Arturo Prats), 2012, pp. 41-60
  • 'Reframing the Bible: Genesis and Exodus on Toledo Cathedral's Fourteenth-Century Choir Screen', in Gesta, 50:1, 2011, pp. 71-89
  • 'Art and Belief in Medieval Castile', in Spiritual Temporalities in Late-Medieval Europe (ed. M. Foster), 2010, pp. 99-126.
  • 'La Catedral: su Historia Constructiva', in La Catedral Primada de Toledo (ed. R. Gonzálvez), 2010, pp. 148-161.
  • 'The Locked-Up Garden. Art and Nature in Medieval Castile', Immediations 2:2, 2009, pp. 19-29.
  • 'The Royal Tombs of Santes Creus: Negotiating the Royal Image in Medieval Iberia', Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 72:1, 2009, pp. 1-14.
  • 'Moral Edification at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge', Architectural History, 48, 2005, pp. 49-68 (winner of the Hawksmoor Medal from the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain).