Church Monuments Society

thumbnail Image Bessarion and Fichet

Splendour for the Afterlife: Cardinal Bessarion’s Funerary Chapel



Online lecture

Splendour for the Afterlife: Cardinal Bessarion and the Biggest Funerary Chapel of Fifteenth-Century Italy

Between 1463 and 1467, Cardinal Bessarion (c.1403-1472), Patriarch of Constantinople, constructed one of the biggest funerary chapels in Quattrocento Italy. Located in the ancient Basilica of Santi Apostoli in Rome, this chapel is largely lost, but many parts of its interesting history and iconography can still be traced. Based on newly discovered archival material, this presentation will trace how Bessarion’s self-fashioning for the afterlife in his chapel in the basilica of Santi Apostoli was founded on developing contemporary thought on the importance visual splendour. This talk will also present and discuss precious objects which were original to the context but which have been understudied. A deeper understanding of this process will provide new insights into the power structures which went behind the construction of one of the largest funerary chapels of the Quattrocento.


Philip Muijtjens is a PhD Candidate in History of Art at King’s College, Cambridge. His research project, which is supervised by Dr Donal Cooper, focuses on the use of space and visibility in monumental tombs in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italy. Before the PhD, Philip studied Classics and History of Art (both cum laude) at the University of Leiden, and an MPhil in History of Art (2019) at Cambridge. In the years before going to Cambridge, Philip was also a part of a range of research projects at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, the Royal Library in The Hague, the Huygens Institute and the Center for Hellenic Studies (Harvard University) in Washington DC.


This lecture is part of our All Hallows 2023 autumn series of lectures. For details of the rest of the series, and our other events, go to .

Event Information

This online talk is FREE to all and will take place on Zoom. Places must be booked via Eventbrite at This is one of a series of online talks delivered by the Church Monuments Society for Autumn 2023.

JOINING INSTRUCTIONS: You should receive a link from Eventbrite two days before the event, two hours before the event, and just as the event begins. If you have not received the link, contact us via Eventbrite so we can try to resolve this.


Guidelines and handy Zoom hints

Before the event:

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During the webinar:

• Please remain muted throughout.

• The talk will last approximately 45 minutes and will be followed by questions.

• You are welcome to use the Chat box to contact panellists.

• Send formal questions for the speaker using the Q&A function so that they are easily identifiable. These can then be put to the speaker by one of our event coordinators.

• The session may be recorded by the Church Monuments Society. Screenshots and/or recording by participants is not permitted for copyright reasons.

• The host can remove attendees from the webinar.

• If you experience technical difficulties, contact panellists using the chat function. We will do our best to help.

• Enjoy the talk!

Image: Detail of miniature showing Cardinal Bessarion receiving a copy of the Rhetoric from Guillaume Fichet, 1471, Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Membr. 53, fol. 1r.