Tom Nickson - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Tom Nickson

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Dr Tom Nickson

Associate Dean; Lecturer in Medieval Art
Photograph of 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 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 Vice-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. Multilingual inscriptions have been a topic of particular interest. Tom’s book, Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile was published by Penn State University Press in December 2015. 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.

Teaching 2016-17

PhD Supervision



  • Sophie Dentzer, ‘Decorative Vaults in Fourteenth-Century England’ (2016)
  • Matilde Grimaldi, ‘The Lost Romanesque Cathedral of Tortosa (Catalonia)’ (2016)


Research interests

  • The spread of Gothic architecture in medieval Europe and technologies of architectural transmission.
  • 19th– and 20th-century architectural criticism and revivalism.
  • Church furnishings.
  • Epigraphy and orality.
  • The reception of Islamic art and architecture in medieval Europe
  • Architecture and light
  • Antiquarianism in Early Modern Spain

Recent publications

Books and edited books

Essays, articles and reviews

Other current/ongoing professional activities

  • Vice-chair of ARTES
  • Art History, editorial board

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