Medieval Work in Progress

‘perpetual food for our souls’: The Carthusians at the Cartuja de Miraflores

Speaker: Dr Nicholas Flory

The Cartuja de Miraflores, founded in 1442, represents one of the most splendid and richly furnished surviving medieval charterhouses, ornamented chiefly by the magnificent tomb of Juan II of Castile and his second wife Isabelle of Portugal and the enormous retablo mayor. In this paper, these extraordinary objects will be explored in their monastic context, evaluating the various lay and religious influences which shaped their design and which dictated their use and function.

Scholarship on the charterhouse has primarily focused on the role its principal patron, Isabella of Castile, played in its completion and decoration and how the queen expressed her political objectives and ideals through her patronage of the monastery and its church. The specificities of its Carthusian audience, however, have been largely overlooked. This paper seeks to bring the monastic community, their influence, interests and ideals to the fore, considering how the objects commissioned for the monks’ choir may have served to reflect Carthusian concerns, as well as those of their patrons. Focusing on the royal tomb and Gil de Siloe’s monumental retablo, the paper will discuss how these objects may have been designed consciously with a monastic viewership in mind and how they may have served to reflect Carthusian habits of prayer, liturgy and life as well as to commemorate their patrons.

Nicholas Flory recently completed his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, with a thesis titled ‘pro æterna salute dominæ ducissæ’: The Carthusian patronage of Isabella of Portugal and Margaret of York, Duchesses of Burgundy, 1430-1503’, supervised by Professor Susie Nash and funded by CHASE. He is an Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld and also works as a Consultant for the Old Master Paintings department at Christie’s auction house.

Organised by Dr Jessica Barker (The Courtauld) and Dr Tom Nickson (The Courtauld). 

This event has passed.

8 Mar 2023

Wednesday 8th March 2023, 5pm - 6.30pm GMT

Free, booking essential

Lecture Theatre 1  Vernon Square 

This is an in person event at our Vernon Square campus. Booking will close 30 minutes before the event start time.

Photograph of an alabaster tomb decoration
Gil de Siloe, Tomb of Juan II of Castile and Isabelle of Portugal (detail), c. 1486-1493, alabaster, Cartuja de Miraflores, Burgos. Photograph by Nicholas Flory.