Tom Nickson


  • Strand, Somerset House

    WC2R 0RN London

    United Kingdom

  • 6 Citations
  • 1 h-Index

Personal profile


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 the liturgy and other kinds of performance. 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 most important 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
  • St Thomas Becket, relics and pilgrimage
  • Church furnishings, treasuries, and inventories
  • Epigraphy and orality
  • The reception of Islamic art and architecture in medieval Europe
  • Architecture, light and the senses
  • Antiquarianism in Early Modern Spain

Special Awards, Honours & Distinctions

  • Eleanor Turft Prize, 2016, for Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile (from the American Society of Art Historical Studies). 
  • Nicholas Hawksmoor Medal, 2005 (from the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain)

Other Ongoing Activities

  • Vice-chair of ARTES
  • Art History, editorial board
  • Associate Dean for Students, Courtauld Institute of Art

PhD Students


  • Maeve O’Donnell-Morales, ‘The Altar in Medieval Castile’
  • Costanza Beltrami, ‘Juan Guas (active 1453-1496) and the ‘Hispano-Flemish style’



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

Education / Academic qualification

Cambridge University

The Courtauld Institute of Art

… → 2009

The Courtauld Institute of Art

… → 2005

External positions

University of York


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Relics Arts & Humanities
Pilgrimage Arts & Humanities
Treasury Arts & Humanities

Research Output 2005 2015

'Paul Binski, Gothic Wonder: Art, Artifice and the Decorated Style, 1290-1350'

Nickson, T. Nov 2015 In : Art History. 38, 5, p. 152-155

Research output: Research - peer-reviewBook/Film/Article review

Open Access

Simulacra and Seriality in Spanish Renaissance Sculpture

Nickson, T. (ed.), Schrader, J. (ed.) & Trused, M. (ed.) 2015 In : Hispanic Research Journal. 16, 5

Research output: Research - peer-reviewSpecial issue

Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile

Nickson, T. Oct 2015 University Park, PA: Penn State University Press. 340 p.

Research output: ResearchBook

‘Remembering Fernando. Multi-lingual inscriptions in medieval Iberia’

Nickson, T. 2015 Viewing Inscriptions in the Late Antique and Medieval World. Eastmond , A. (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 170-186

Research output: ResearchChapter

Medieval Period

‘Texts and Talismans in Medieval Castile’

Nickson, T. 2015 In : Art in Translation. 7, 1, p. 9-38

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Open Access