Jessica Gasson

PhD student

Thesis: Tapestry Altarpieces: the Function, Design and Self-reflexivity of Tapestries made for Altars in the Burgundian Netherlands in the Fifteenth Century

Supervisor: Professor Susie Nash

Funded by Consortium of the Humanities and the Arts South-East England 

My research investigates the small tapestries made for use on altars, most often at specific festivals. The Low Countries were renowned for their tapestries in the Fifteenth Century, of which the tapestry altarpieces were the most intensely rich in detail, material and meaning. My project is the first systematic study of this object type. Focusing on design I explore how tapestry cartoon makers, weavers, dyers and theologians cooperated to represent imagery in this medium, often with a nod to its specificity and self-awareness. I ask how the medium mediated the meaning of the iconography and informed the viewers engagement. The fragmentary survival of these tapestries has led them to be overlooked. My research collates other source types including theological treatise, inventories, and other object types to recover their lost meaning.



2020 – ongoing: PhD, The Courtauld Institute of Art

2013-2018: Fine Art MA, Edinburgh University, First Class Honours


Autumn 2021: The Courtauld Institute of Art, Teaching Assistant and Teaching Assistants Coordinator, Foundations lecture series (BA1)

Conference Papers

  • ‘Woven Complexities: Untangling the Uses of Silk, Gold and Wool in the V&A Passion Tapestry’, God is in the Details: The Art of Detail in the Midle Ages, Annual Medieval Postgraduate Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London (29th April 2022)
  • ‘From manuscript to tapestry: Unpicking the making and use of the Sens Three Coronation tapestry c.1476-88’, The Annual Third Year Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London (18th – 19th May 2023)
  • ‘Tapestries on the altar: exploring the design and use of the Louvre Virgin of the Living Water and the Sens Three Coronation tapestries’, Intersections: Entanglements with Medieval and Renaissance Textiles, 1100-1550, Annual Medieval Postgraduate Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London (22nd May 2023)

Academic Training

2020: DATS training for textile reserach

2021-21: Palaeography (Institute of Historical Research)

2021-2023: French and Middle French

October 2022: “Techniche e technologie storiche” Fondazione Arte Della Seta Lisio

September 2022: Tapestry Weaving, West Dean Studio

April – December 2023: Building Arts Programme with the King’s Foundation