Portfolio of VILLARD DE HONNECOURT c. 1230 - 35

Each of the original 33 leaves or folios (66 pages) are reproduced here in digital form for educational use only. 
The original sheets are each approximately 240mm x 160mm.
The pages follow the orientation and order in which they were bound together and here the usual convention is followed with each leaf or folio being numbered and the front recto and back verso identified with "r" and "v" respectively. 
The image files, including the cover bindings are in black and white, so they do not indicate the tonality of the original parchment although all the linear detail is present in each large version which can be accessed by clicking on its thumbnail equivalent. Also, where the upright presentation of a page, demanded by the original binding, works against the natural orientation of its content the image will load rotated to correct orientation - as presumably would happen if holding the original album. These digital images are not scanned from any edition currently in print. They come from a relatively rare, privately-owned, facsimile edition published in Paris by Catala Freres in 1927. Colour images of the pages or folios can be found on the Website of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France: Le carnet de Villard de Honnecourt, n.d.

Portfolio of VILLARD DE HONNECOURT c. 1230 - 35

Description The Album (or more correctly, "Portfolio," as Carl F. Barnes has argued) can be classified as a model book and the authority on Medieval Model Books is the Dutch scholar Robert W. Scheller. Below is an extract from his descritpion of the Portfolio.
"The 'portfolio' contains numerous drawings of a wide range of subjects. The vast majority are of the human figure - either alone (draped or nude) or in groups - and isolated heads. The meaning of several subjects is given in the inscriptions (without which it would sometimes be impossible to identify them). There are religious scenes (a series of seated apostles, the women from the judgment of Solomon, a beheading of Sts Cosmas and Damian), personifications of Humilitas and Superbia [3v], as well as profane subject like horsemen, dice-players and lion-fighters. Related to these are a number of figures and groups set in a geometrical grid [18v]. There are also quite a few animals, some of which could have come from bestiaries, such as the Pelican in her Piety, a bear, a swan [4r] and an owl. Other animals include lions, parakeets, a snail and miscellaneous insects.
Many of the drawings are of buildings and architecture. In addition to ground-plans [17r], there are elevations of facades, towers and church interiors [30v], as well as details like rose windows, a wheel of fortune (also reduced to a grid-like abstraction) and a labyrinth [7v], cross-sections of clustered piers and other supports, and drawings of templates. Another group consists of ecclesiastical objects and furnishings, such as stall-ends, a lectern, a hand-warmer, and so on.
Villard's interest in technology is reflected in several intriguing drawings of mechanical devices: a hydraulic saw, a large catapult, a booby-trapped crossbow [22v] and even a perpetuum mobile. A related category comprises drawings of automata: a rotating angel, an eagle with a movable head and a bird that could drink from a fountain.
Most of the drawings have inscriptions, composed by Villard and written in an early Gothic scribe's minuscule, consisting of explanatory texts, both short and long, in the Picardy dialect." Robert W. Scheller Exemplum: Model-book drawing and the practice of artisitic transmission in the Middle Ages (ca. 900 - ca. 1450), Amsterdam Univ. Press, 1995, pp. 176/177.
Bibliography
The indisputable authority on Villard de Honnecourt was Carl. F. Barnes, Jr. who published a significant amount of material on the Portfolio including a Critical Bibliography first in 1982, and more recently a full colour facsimile of the original (Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2009). Until his death in 2012 he also maintained a Website that acted as a portal to all available resources on Villard and the Portfolio. The site was decommissioned some years ago but thankfully his collection of resources was archived and is available for download in PDF on the official Website for the journal AVISTA published by the Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Interdisciplinary Study of Medieval Technology, Science and Art. Here you will find a comprehensive and basic bibliographies downloadable in various formats along with a full listing of publications by Carl. F. Barnes Jr.

Copyright © (2000) Ross Woodrow --All Rights Reserved