Dr Lynda Dennison (Oxford University) and Dr Cynthia Johnston (IES)
Half-day, from 14.00 to 17.00
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

The practice of penflourishing as a medium to embellish manuscripts emerges from the late twelfth century, associated strongly with the scholastic movement. Study of its progress and use necessitates both palaeographic and art historical analysis with regard to its form, application and development. This half day course will examine the developmental progress of penflourishing from its use in the Schools of northern France and the nascent universities of the late twelfth century and its success as a form developed in book production through the thirteenth century and fourteenth centuries. Key questions will be: what are the distinctive features of late medieval penflourishing, when did they originate, how and under what influences did they develop, in which books is it prevalent? Who executed this work: the scribe, the illuminator, or was the flourisher distinct from these? Do these processes work in conjunction? An aesthetic of penflourishing will also be considered.


J.G.J. Alexander, The Decorated Letter (New York: Brazilier, 1978)

W. Augustyn, Christine Jacobi-Mirwald, Christine Sauer, and Martin Roland, ‘Fleuroneé, Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte, 9 (Munich: Institut für Kunstgeschichte, 2003)

L. Dennison, ‘The Significance of Ornamental Penwork in Illuminated and Decorated Manuscripts of the Second Half of the Fourteenth Century’, in Tributes to Kathleen L. Scott, English Medieval Manuscripts: Readers, Makers and Illuminators, ed. by M. Villalobus Hennessy (Harvey Miller Publishers: London and Turnhout, 2009), 31-64

In the same volume (pp. 65-72) A. I. Doyle, ‘Penwork Flourishing of Initials in England from c. 1380’

L. Dennison and N. J. Rogers, ‘A Medieval Best-Seller: Some Examples of Decorated Copies of Higden’s Polychronicon’, in C.M. Barron and J. Stratford, eds, The Church and Learning in Late Medieval Society: Essays in Honour of R.B. Dobson, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 9 (Donington, 2002)

N.J. Morgan, ‘The Decorative Ornament of the Text and Page in Thirteenth-Century England: Initials, Border Extensions and Line Fillers’, English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700, 10 (2002), 1-33

S. Scott-Fleming, The Analysis of Pen Flourishing in Thirteenth-Century Manuscripts (Leiden: Brill, 1989)

P.D. Stirnemann, ‘Dating, Placing and Illumination’, Journal of the Early Book Society, 11 (2008), 155-166

P.D. Stirnemann, ‘Fils de la vierge: L’initiale à filigranes parisienne 1140-1314’, Revue de l’art (1990), 58-73