Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts: The Work of an Angel

Short course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
Sold out

Spend time with some of the most beautiful manuscripts in the world. This five-day, in-person, course will explore various aspects of medieval illuminated manuscripts, using the V&A's extensive collections as the starting point. It's a unique opportunity to see breath-taking work rarely on public display.

Get close to objects from the collections of the V&A and National Art Library through up-close sessions and gallery tours. Participate in group discussion and have contact time with course tutors. Enjoy in-depth lectures with expert speakers. Led by V&A Course Director Dr Sally Dormer and NAL Special Collections Curator Dr Catherine Yvard.

Please note that places on this course are limited to 30.

The course is fully booked but should you be interested to be added to the waiting list, please email

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Course Leaders
Dr Sally Dormer and Dr Catherine Yvard

Dr Sally Dormer is a specialist medieval art historian with an M.A. in Medieval Art History and Ph.D. on Medieval illuminated manuscripts, and is a Year Course Director for V&A Academy. Dr Catherine Yvard is the Special Collections Curator for the National Art Library at the V&A, specialising in medieval manuscript illumination.

I enjoyed all of the sessions... It was amazing to see these fabulous items up close. Previous course attendee

Course overview

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, books were laboriously written by hand on parchment. The more lavish examples, illuminated with gold, and painted with costly pigments, were prized by ecclesiastical and lay patrons as the most desirable of possessions. Gerald of Wales, a late twelfth-century chronicler, was so impressed by a manuscript he saw that he exclaimed it must have been “the work of an angel”. Such volumes are equally appreciated today, in part for their intrinsic beauty as well as for the light they shed on various aspects of medieval life. The materials and techniques used to produce them reveal a great deal about the working methods of medieval craftsmen. The texts and illustrations of Bibles, psalters, books of hours, and the works of secular authors such as Pliny inform us about patterns of public worship, private devotion, intellectual pursuits and the everyday lives and leisure interests of the men and women who commissioned and used them. This course will introduce you to different types of illuminated manuscripts and give you the opportunity to get up close to a selection of manuscripts from the collection of the National Art Library.


V&A Members get priority booking

Membership Priority Booking opens at 10am on Friday 13 October. General Booking opens at 10am on Monday 23 October.

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Short course: Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts: The Work of an Angel

11 March 2024 - 15 March 2024


Sold out

Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

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