BIBLIO — Writings 1900-1949

Writings on Villard de Honnecourt, 1900-1949


SCHNEEGANS, F. E. “Über die Sprache des Skizzenbuches von Villard de Honnecourt,” Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, vol. 25, pp. 45-70.

A long and detailed analysis of the inscriptions in the Villard portfolio. Schneegans was the first author to observe that not all the inscriptions were by Villard, a fundamental discovery for accurate analysis of the hands in the portfolio and for understanding the work’s early history.

Schneegans identified three different hands which he termed “masters” (abbreviated as “Ms.”). Villard himself was Ms. 1. Ms. 2 wrote only in French (fols. 3v, 17r, 21v, and 31v). Ms. 3 wrote in French (fols. 6v, 13r, 18r, 20r, 20v, 21r, 22v, and 23r) and in Latin (fols. 15r, 16r, and 17r). On the basis of the handwriting styles and the philology of the inscriptions, the author dates the portfolio between ca. 1230 and ca. 1260.

Schneegans provides a detailed analysis of the different hands (pp. 48-53) and a glossary (pp. 67-70) that has served as the basis for all later glossaries.

WARNING!  Hahnloser (F.IV, p. 194) believed that Schneegans’s Ms. 3 came closer in time to Villard than Schneegans’s Ms. 2, so he reversed Schneegans’s designations:

Hahnloser’s Mr. 2 = Schneegans’s Ms. 3 and Hahnloser s Mr. 3 = Schneegans’s Ms. 2. As noted above, Schneegans termed Villard Ms. 1, a scheme not followed by Hahnloser, who considered Villard as the first master but never designated him as Mr. 1.


STURGIS, RUSSELLA Dictionary of Architecture and Building. New York: Macmillan Co.

This is the earliest mention of Villard in a book by an American author, three years prior to that by Adams (1904.1).

Sturgis claims (vol. 3, col. 1048), “From internal evidence contained in the book [i.e., the Villard portfolio], it is supposed that he was one of the leaders in the development of Gothic architecture in the thirteenth century, and that he built, between 1227 and 1251, the choir of the cathedral of Cambrai.

Sturgis notes that various churches in Hungary, as well as Meaux and Vaucelles, have been attributed to Villard by different authors. He cites Willis in his bibliography and employs the spelling “Wilars.”


WATSON, THOMAS LENNOXThe Double Choir of Glasgow Cathedral: A Study of Rib Vaulting. Glasgow: Hedderwick.

Cited by Fitchen (1961.4, p. 304) who includes a long quotation from Watson relative to Villard’s device for lifting heavy objects (fol. 22v). Watson observes that if such lifting devices had been in common use, “the probability is that Vilars would not have thought it necessary to depict it.” Watson’s spelling of Villard as “Vilars” suggests he knew of Villard’s drawings through the Willis facsimile.



BRUTAILS, [ELIE] J[EAN]-A[UGUSTE]. “‘Tiers-Point’ et ‘quint-point,'” Bulletin archéologique, pp. 273-279

Not concerned with Villard per se, but with the accurate use of the terms for third-point and fifth-point arches on fol. 20v (which are not by Villard). Brutails concludes that Villard and other Gothic architects used these terms in a vague way to indicate pointed rather than rounded arches.


DEMAISON, LOUIS. “La Cathédrale de Reims, son histoire, les dates de sa construction,” Bulletin monumental, vol. 66, pp. 3-59.

In a long analysis of the various visual documents that shed light on the dates of Reims, Demaison considers (pp. 17-21) the croquis of Villard. He terms them “exactes” with the reservation that Villard ignored features which he considered unimportant, added his own modifications, or drew from plans, details of which were subsequently modified or omitted when actual construction was done, for example, the crétiatus of the radiating chapels and the nave. He then dates (p. 20) Villard’s drawing of the Reims nave window “vers l’année 1244” when Villard was on his way to Hungary following interruption of construction at Cambrai in 1243.

Demaison considers (pp. 20-21) Bénard’s argument (1864.1) proposing Villard as architect of Saint-Quentin rather than of Cambrai and dating Villard’s trip to Hungary ca. 1235. He appears to reject this interpretation, but claims that whether Villard was architect of Cambrai or of Saint-Quentin, his Reims drawings date to the second quarter of the thirteenth century and prove that the “chevet était alors terminé ou sur le point d’étre, et les premières travées de la nef étaient au moins en cours de construction.” Demaison discusses (p. 21 n. 1) Renan’s (1862.1) late dating (1261-1272) of Villard’s trip to Hungary and dismisses this as a possibility unless Villard made two trips there, one in the 1240s and a second in the 1260s when he worked at Kassa.


ENLART, [DÉSIRÉ LOUIS] CAMILLE. “Notes sur quelques maîtres oeuvres: Villard de Honnecourt.” In Manuel d’archéologie française depuis les temps mérovingiens jusqu’à la renaissance, vol. 1, Architecture religieuse, pt. 2, Période française dit gothique, style flamboyant, renaissance. Paris: Auguste Picard et Fils, 1902-1904. **Rev. ed. Paris, 1920, pp. 745-747.

Essentially repeats the contents of 1895.1. Enlart here claims that “on a des preuves” (without citing what these are) that Villard erected the sanctuaries of Vaucelles and Saint-Quentin and built some unspecified monuments, now all destroyed, in Hungary. He also states that Cambrai, Meaux, and Reims are wrongly attributed to Villard, and that Kassa, Marburg, and the Liebfrauenkirche at Trier are attributed to Villard without “preuve certaine.” Dating (p. 746) Villard’s death to ca. 1260, he again places Villard’s trip to Hungary between 1235 and 1250.

Enlart concludes with the hypothesis that the portfolio, called a “manuscript,” had been found at Cambrai by the sculptor Jean de Roupy (d. 1438) also known as Jean de Cambrai, who adopted certain of Villard’s figures (e.g., the sleeping apostle on fol. 23v [incorrectly termed a seated figure and designated as fol. XLXVI by the author]) for the tomb of Jean, Duke of Berry, in the early fifteenth century. Enlart also claims that Jean de Roupy made some additions to the portfolio, one of which was the swan (Fr. cygne) of fol. 4r which, together with Villard’s bear (Fr. ours) on that folio, forms a rebus symbolizing Duke Jean’s “dame par amours,” one Oursine; cf. the Très Riches Heures de Jean Duc de Berry (Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS. 1284, fols. 26r and 112v).



ADAMS, HENRY [BROOKS]Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres. Washington, D.C.: privately printed. **Reprint. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1963.

Adams was interested in Villard to the degree that Villard was interested in the west rose of Chartres (fol. 15v), although Adams claims (p. 65) that the Villard portfolio, called a “manuscript,” “is the source of most that is known about the practical ideas of medieval architects.” He terms Villard a “professional expert” of ca. 1200-1250 who came to Chartres and made a rough sketch of the west rose when it was relatively new.

He later (p. 114) offers Villard’s sketch as proof that this rose was of “great value” to architects of the time (and incorrectly states that this rose was the only thing at Chartres of which Villard made a drawing). Yet later (p. 144) Adams proposes that while the transept roses probably had been completed by the time Villard visited Chartres, Villard consciously selected the west rose as a model because of “some quality of construction which interested him.”

Adams is one of the first American authors to mention Villard (see Sturgis, 1901.2), and he may have been the first American to examine the portfolio (see “Miscellaneous”).


LETHABY, W[ILLIAM] R[ICHARD]Medieval Art from the Peace of the Church to the Eve of the Renaissance, 312-1350. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons. **Rev. ed., edited by D[avid] Talbot Rice, New York: Philosophical Library, 1950.

One of the first English language surveys of medieval architecture to include commentary on Villard and his portfolio, variously called a “book,” a “manuscript,” and a “sketchbook.” Lethaby refers to Villard a number of times, and summarizes (p. 181) his view of the portfolio by noting that its inscriptions indicate that it is “probable that the book was prepared to be handed on either to [Villard’s] descendants, or to his guild, or for ‘publication.'”

Lethaby accepts (pp. 124 and 181) the Bénard thesis (1864.1) that Villard may have been the architect of Saint-Quentin after his trip to Hungary, which is indirectly dated after 1230 since he also attributes Vaucelles, ca. 1230, to Villard and dates his visit to Reims ca. 1225.

Lethahy comments on other aspects of Villard’s varied interests, misquoting him (p. 146) about the beauty of the Laon tower, but his principal interest in Villard is in his drawings of masonry. He notes (pp. 131-132) that Villard fully understood the construction of the Reims tracery, correctly showing (fol. 31r) the joggle joints required in this construction. In addition, he comments (pp. 119-120) in some detail on the significance of Villard’s [sic = Master II’s] use of three-, four-, and five-point arches (fol. 20r), claiming that these were shorthand geometric schemes which permitted construction without the use of large-scale working drawings: “the sketchbook of Villars de Honnecourt shows how much building recipes of this sort were valued.”

Reproduces, after Lassus or Willis, a number of details from the portfolio.



CHEVALIER, CYR ULYSSE JOSEPHRépertoire des sources historiques du moyen age: Bio-bibliographique, 2 vols. Paris: A. Picard, 1905-1907.

Contains (vol. 2, cols. 4676-4677) a list of several nineteenth-century bibliographic items concerning Villard not found or cited elsewhere, e.g., Brunet, 1864.1; Grässe, 1867.1; Pécheur, 1872.2; Tourneur, 1852.1. Chevalier (vol. 2, col. 4676) terms Villard an architecte and gives the date 1262 without indicating to what the date refers [Villard’s death?].


FORSTER, CYULA H. “A müemlékek védelme a magyar kormány visszaállitasa ota” [The protection of artistic monuments since reestablishment of the Hungarian government]. In Magyarország müemlékei [The Artistic monuments of Hungary]. Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akádemia.

Questions (p. 27) the attribution by Möller (1905.3) of a mason ‘s mark at Gyu1afehérvár to Villard.


MÖLLER, ISTVÁN. “A gyulaféhérvári székesegyház” [The Cathedral of Gyulafehérvár]. In Magyarország müem1ékei [The Artistic Monunents of Hungary]. Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akádemia.

Cited by Forster (1905.2) and Gá1 (1929.1) as attributing a mason’s mark at Gyulafehérvár to Villard. Both authors reject this attribution. In Hungarian.


MÖLLER, ISTVÁN. “Építészeti emlékek Hunyadi János idejéböl [Architectural Relics in the Age of Hunyadi János (1387-1456)],” Magyarország müemlékei, vol. 1, Budapest: Forster Gyula, 1905, p. 125.

The first Hungarian attempt to locate Villard at one or more building sites in Hungary where a mason’s mark resembling a star or pentagram is found. The key passage is  “We found in Gyulafehérvár Villard’s mark and two from his pupils. Villard worked also in Zsámbék, and three of his pupils [worked] in Ják, Szentgotthárd and Léka. We found in Gyulafehérvár the mason mark of the master, who worked earlier in Léka, and after the Tartars he restaurated Ják. We know, also from the mason marks, that from Léka two other persons also went to Gyulafehérvár.”


FORSTER, CYULA H. “M?emlékek védelme a magyar kormány visszaállítása óta. 1897-1902 [“Monument Heritage Activity between 1867-1902,” Magyarország m?emlékei [Monuments of Hungary], vol. 1, ed. Gyula Forster, Budapest, 1905, p. 27.

Forster was director of the Hungarian Monuments Heritage Office. His only mention of Villard in this work is to cite the mention in Möller (1905.4) that in Zsámbék “on the south aisle exterior wall we find a master mason-mark that is the mark of Villard.”



OMONT, HENRI. see “The Facsimile Editions,” F.III, 1st ed.



FAURE, ELIEHistoire de l’art, 5 vols. Paris: H. Floury, 1909-1911. **English translation: History of Art, vol. 2, Mediaeval Art. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1922.

In an enthusiastic essay on the influence of French Gothic art on thirteenth-century Europe, Faure cites (p. 346) as an example of French expertise abroad the visits of Martin Ragevy [sic] (see Quicherat, 1876.2) and Villard de Honnecourt to Hungary, stating that both “built churches in distant parts of Hungary.”


PORTER, A[RTHUR] K[INGSLEY]Medieval Architecture: Its Origins and Development, 2 vols. New York: Baker and Taylor.

Porter devotes (vol. 2, p. 185) only one paragraph to Villard, whom he terms “a master builder of the second half of the XIIIth century.” He makes two unsubstantiated claims: that Villard went to Hungary “to take charge of the building of a church;” and that when Villard drew the tracery of a Reims window (fol. 10v) “he jotted down [in notes in the margin] that it was his intention to reproduce the design in the cathedral of Cambrai, which he was building at the time.”

No illustrations.



MORTET, VICTOR. “La Mesure de la figure humaine et le canon des proportions d’après les dessins de Villard de Honnecourt, d’Albert Dürer et Léonard de Vinci.” In Mélanges offerts à Monsieur Emile Chatelain. Paris, n.publ., pp. 367-382.

Terms Villard an “architecte picard du XIIIe siècle,” and claims that his drawings prove that geometry, not mathematics, was the basis of design and proportion in medieval art. Mortet states (p. 369) that Villard knew Latin and took his geometric design-schemata from a Latin, or possibly Picard, translation of a Latin, treatise on practical geometry (e.g., Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte- Geneviève, MS. 2200).

For Mortet (p. 372) the key to Villard’s schemata is found in the “face in the square” on fol. 19v, which he terms “un véritable canon des proportions de la tête, bien que Villard de Honnecourt ne nous l’ait dit expressément,” passed from Vitruvius to the Renaissance where it is found used by Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci. According to Mortet, these artists and Villard employed a proportional system of four modules by four modules for the human head. In the “face in the square” the outer two vertical modules and the uppermost horizontal module determine the location of the hair, thus the face itself is designed with a proportion of 2 : 3. (For different interpretations of Villard’s “face in the square,” see Panofsky, 1921.1, and Frankl, 1945.1).

Reproduces after Lassus various of the geometric faces and heads on fol. 18v and the head of the seated Christ on fol. 16v, which he claims is designed on the same basis.


SERBAT, LOUIS. “L’Age de quelques statues du grand portail de la cathédrale de Reims,” Bulletin monumental, vol. 74, pp. 107-124.

Claims (p. 112) that the classical figures of Reims and Villard’s “études de nu d’après l’antique” (fols. 6r, llv, 22r, and 29v) prove that medieval artists were more capable of copying the works of antiquity than artists of the classical period would have been of copying medieval work.

Refers (p. 112 n. 4) to plates in the Omont facsimile (F.III) and reproduces (between pp. 122-123) Villard’s Ecclesia figure (fol. 4v), apparently made from the same negative used for the Omont plate.



JUSSELIN, MAURICE. “Une Maison du XIIIe siècle récemment découverte au cloître Notre-Dame, à Chartres,” Bulletin monumental, vol. 75, pp. 351-395.

Compares (p. 386) the reliefs of a second-story window tympanum of a house from the former cloister of Chartres discovered in May 1911 with Villard’s dice-players (fol. 9r) and wrestlers (fol. 14v), dating the reliefs ca. 1225/1250 and claiming that Villard surely saw them, possibly in 1260 on the occasion of the dedication of the cathedral.

Jusselin notes that wrestlers are found on stalls at Lausanne, but that Chartres is the only place where Villard could have seen wrestlers and dice-players side by side. He observes that there are some differences between the Chartres reliefs and Villard’s drawing, attributing this to the fact that Villard “dessinait de mémoire et ne respectait pas les formes des originaux.”

Jusselin provides excellent photographs of the Chartres reliefs and reproduces the Villard figures from photographic negatives, possibly those used for the Omont facsimile (F.III).



HAENDCKE, BERTHOLD. “Dürers Selbstbildnisse und ‘Konstruierte Figuren,'” Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft, vol. 5, pp. 185-189.

Contains a brief reference to Villard’s human faces with proportional schemata, especially the “face in the square” on fol. 19v. Its quadrature is compared with Mathes Roriczer’s design schemes. Haendcke also mentions Lassus’s plates XXIV and XXVI but describes the geometric drawings found on Lassus’s plates XXXIV-XXXVI (fols. 18 and 19).

A parallel is drawn between Albrecht Dürer’s division of the human face into horizontal proportional units and the drawing of two human faces in the upper right corner of Villard’s fol. 18v, but there is no evidence that Dürer knew the Villard portfolio.

Panofsky (1921.1, p. 83 n. 52) claims that Haendcke gives a “false impression” when he states that Villard’s two figures in pentagrams (bottom of fol. 18r) represent a proportional construction of an entire eight-faced figure.


KUNZE, HANSDas Fassadenproblem der französischen Früh- und Hochgotik. Leipzig: Oscar Brandsetter.

Although frequently cited in studies on Villard, this famous essay has very little to do with Villard or his drawings. Kunze mentions Villard in connection with three buildings: Chartres, Laon, and Reims. He states (p. 24, in n. 2 continued from p. 23) that Emile Boeswillwald could have restored a spire at Laon on the basis of Villard’s drawing (fol. 10r) of its tower, and he accepts (p. 33 n. 1) the view that, in drawing the Chartres west rose (fol. 15v), Villard “improved it”: “Villard de Honmecourt hat sie, mit einigen Veränderungen in Sinne einer stärkeren Durchbrechungen, also in Sinne einer stilistischen Weiterbildung, in einer Skizze wiedergegeban.”

The most extensive discussion of Villard (pp. 52-64 passim) concerns his drawings of Reims, but Kunze draws few concise or convincing conclusions. His view is that Villard modified what he saw and/or that some of his drawings were his projections of what was intended, but subsequently modified, thus accounting for the discrepancies between the drawings and the actual fabric of the building itself.

Refers to the Lassus plates.


LEFEBVRE DES NOËTTES, [Commandant] RICHARD. “La Tapisserie de Bayeux datée par les harnachement des chevaux et l’équipement des chevaliers,” Bulletin Monumental, vol. 76, pp. 213-241.

Offers (pp. 222-224) Villard’s drawing of two mounted knights (squires?) on fol. 8v as proof that the bit-bridle was in use as early as the thirteenth century, although no mention is made of fol. 3v where the same piece of harness appears to be shown. This is one of the earliest uses of Villard to prove the existence of a specific technological innovation (see also Watson, 1901.3).

Reproduces fol. 8v, probably after Omont.


MIHALIK, JÓZSEFA kassai Szent-Erzsebet templom [The Saint Elizabeth Church at Kassa]. Budapest: n.p.

Devotes pp. 15-20 to Villard and Kassa and concludes that Henszlmann (1858.3) misdated Kassa and therefore associated it with Villard for the wrong reason. After a summary of the Villard portfolio in which he concludes (p. 17) that Villard was not a very imaginative or talented designer, Mihalik dates Villard’s visit to Hungary immediately after the Tartar invasion of 1242. Mihalik concludes (p. 20) that it is universally believed that Kassa was built by Villard and that Villard became known to Béla IV through his work at Cambrai, and he appears to accept the attribution of Kassa to Villard. In Hungarian.

Reproduces after Lassus details of fols. 10v (inscription) and 15v (pavement and inscription).



SZABÓ, LÁSZLÓMagyarország àrpàdkori épitészete [Architecture in Hungary during the Arpad Age]. Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akádemia.

Reviews (pp. 354-364) earlier claims about Villard’s activities in Hungary, especially those of Henszlmann (1857.1, 1858.3, 1866.1). Szabó claims (p. 356) that the only certain information about Villard’s activities in Hungary is that contained (fols. 10v and 15v) in the portfolio.

He supports (p. 360) the date 1244-1247 for Villard’s trip to Hungary and the explanation that it may have been due to Villard’s work at Cambrai, but insists this cannot be proved. He then raises the question of the correct interpretation of Villard’s expression (fol. 15v) maint jor and the problem of whether Villard was “sent” or was “called” to Hungary.

Szabó concludes (pp. 361-364) with a comparison of the plans of Braine and Kassa, stating that Villard must have known Braine because of its proximity to Laon and to Reims.

His most important contention is that Villard was involved only in the design/construction of the foundations at Kassa, the church itself dating from the fifteenth century.

In Hungarian.

Reproduces details of fols. 2r, 10v, and 15v after Lassus edition lithographs.



NICQ-DOUTRELIGNE, C[HARLES?]. “L’Abbaye de Vaucelles (Nord),” Bulletin Monumental, vol. 78, pp. 316-328.

Claims (p. 317) that in 1216 Abbot Robert de Saint- Venent “fit appel pour la construction du choeur à l’architecte Villard de Honmecourt, originaire d’un village voisin de l’abbaye et dont l’éducation artistique s’était formée sur les chantiers de Vaucelles.”

This is the most specific claim of Villard’s association with Vaucelles and is completely undocumented.


VITZTHUM, GRAF. “Fragment eines Missale von Noyon mit Miniaturen von Villard de Honnecourt,” Beiträge zur Studien und Mitteilungen aus dem Antiquariat Jacques Rosenthal, (Munich: n.p.), vol. 1/4-5, pp. 102-113 and pls. XIV-XVI.

On the basis of style attributes (p. 113) to Villard the miniatures on six surviving folios of a lavish missal (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University, MS. Typ 120H) made ca. 1200 for use in (and probably made in) the diocese of Noyon: “…des vorliegenden Fragments eines Missale von Noyon eigenhändige Arbeiten des Villard de Honnecourt erhalten sind.”

This attribution is rejected by most scholars (see Hahnloser; Walters Art Gallery, 1949.5).

Reproduces a number of details of the Villard portfolio after Lassus.


VON SCHLOSSER, JULIUS. “Materialien zur Quellenkunde der Kunstgeschichte, I: Mittelalter,” Kaiserlichen Academie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Sitzungsberichte, vol. 177. p. 1-102.

Claims (p. 29) that Villard’s Skizzenbuch proves that geometry dominated the design process of the Gothic period, and is “eine der wichtigsten Quellen zur Erkemntnis des innerem Wesens jenes Stils, den wir den gotischen zu nennen gewohnt sind.”



COULTON, G[EORGE] G[ORDON]. “An Architect’s Notebook.” In Social Life in Britain from the Conquest to the Reformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 476-480.

Translates an apparently random sampling of inscriptions from the Lassus facsimile into English with some additional commentary. Coulton claims (p. 476) that Villard “is the only medieval architect whose sketchbook has survived,” but nowhere suggests how this relates to life in medieval Britain.

Coulton notes that it is probable that Villard designed Vaucelles, ca. 1230; another unspecified church in Hungary later; and the Saint-Quentin choir, ca. 1250.

Reproduces fols. 5r, 10r, and l0v after Lassus or Willis.



LEFÈVRE-PONTALIS, EUGÈNE [AMÉDÉE]. “L’Origine des arcs-boutants,” Congrès Archéologique de France (Paris), vol. 82, pp. 367-396.

In an analysis (p. 395) of the two-tier flying buttresses of Saint-Quentin, notes that the church was “construit peut-être par Villard de Honnecourt.”



PANOFSKY, ERWIN. “Die Entwicklung der Proportionslehre als Abbild der Stilenwicklung,” Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft, vol. 14, pp. 188-219. **English trans. “The History of the Theory of Human Proportions as a Reflection of the History of Styles.” In Meaning in the Visual Arts. Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1955, pp. 55-107.

Argues that there are two basic schemes for determining human proportions: the “technical,” in which proportions are determined without reference to the appearance of the object to be depicted (Egyptian scheme); and the “objective,” in which the object depicted is observed from the point of view of its inherent mathematical relationships, with a geometric or mathematical system then established to control these (Greek and Renaissance schemes).

Panofsky sees the Gothic scheme, as exemplified by Villard, as parallel to the Egyptian scheme. The result is planimetrical, with the purpose of the geometry being to establish forms, not proportions.

Panofsky discusses Villard on pp. 83-86 and concludes that his approach was thoroughly inorganic, forcing human and animal figures to fit a priori schemata which had nothing to do with nature or with what he terms natural forms. He suggests (p. 85) that while Villard’s “face in the square” (fol. 19v) is found elsewhere (in a window at Reims), most of his schemata on fols. 18r, 18v, 19r and 19v are individual and very nearly ”sheer fantasy.”

Panofsky provides an interesting explanation of the two standing figures on the botton of fol. 18r, seeing the difference between the two as an attempt by Villard to use geometry to transpose a frontal view into a three-quarter view. Elsewhere (p. 80 n. 42), Panofsky notes, with reference to the head of Christ on fol. 16v, that Villard was aware of the Byzantine “three-circle” scheme for determining proportions.

Reproduces (after Lassus?) drawings of various geometric constructions on the folios noted above, and a photographic detail of the “face in the square.”



GILLET, LOUISHistoire des arts. Histoire de la nation française, vol. 11. Paris: Librairie Plon-Nourrit et Cie.

Attributes (p. 126) Saint-Quentin to Villard and states that the portfolio contains fifty leaves. Gillet’s enthusiasm for Villard, when compared with modern architects, has no parallel: “C’est un homme qui écrit le latin d’une manière qui embarrasserait plus d’un des ses confrères modernes, et qui est aussi savant qu’eux en épure, en méchanique, en géometrie.”



GALL, ERNSTDie gotische Baukunst in Frankreich und Deutschland, vol. 1: Die Vorstuffen in Nordfrankreich von der Mitte des Elften bis gegem Ende des Zwölften Jahrunderts. Braunschweig: Klinkhardt und Biermann. **2d rev. ed., 1955.

Contains several passing references to the Villard portfolio, termed (p. 52) a Skizzenbuch. Gall questions the usefulness of the portfolio in the study of medieval architecture, for in his section on “Sources and Monuments” (pp. 10-16) he says (p. 13) that the “bekannte ‘Skizzenbuch’ des Architekten Villard de Honnecourt bietet mehr Rätsel als Lösungen.”



DE LASTEYRIE [du SAILLANT], ROBERT [CHARLES]L’Architecture religieuse en France à l’époque gothique. 2 vols. Paris: Auguste Picard, 1926-1927. [This work was edited by Marcel Aubert and published after De Lasteyrie’s death.]

Contains (vol. 2, p. 601) a number of well-indexed references to Villard, mostly citing his drawings as proof of the existence of various architectural features which De Lasteyrie discusses; for example, the vault plan on fol. 21r proves that lierne and tierceron vaults existed in France earlier than in England (vol. 2, pp. 50-51).

De Lasteyrie’s comments on Villard himself are limited to noting (vol. 2, p. 278) that his “album” proves how widely thirteenth-century French architects wandered in their work and (vol. 1, p. 221) that he may have been the architect of Cambrai.

Reproduces details of fols. 17r and 21r after Lassus.


VAN MARLE, RAIMOND. “L’Iconographie de la décoration profane des demures princières en France et en Italie au XIVe et XVe siècles,” Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., vol. 14, pp. 162-182, 259-274.

Two principal points are made. The first (pp. 166-167) is that the secular images in the Villard portfolio reflect the standard iconography of secular wall-painting in the thirteenth century, where landscape played no role.

The second (pp. 170 and 177) is that a later reflection of the same standard iconography is found in the (now disassembled) sketchbook of Pisanello in the Louvre. Van Marle claims (p. 273) that “le répertoire [de ces deux artistes] est exactement le même” but (p. 274) that this is due to their reflection of a common tradition and not to Pisanello’s knowledge of the Villard portfolio.

It is suggested (p. 172) that Villard observed his lion, ostriches, porcupine, and other exotic animals in a menagerie.

Reproduces fols. 14r, 18v, and 23v (twice).



BRIGGS, MARTIN SThe Architect in History. Oxford: Clarendon Press. **Reprinted in the series Architecture and Decorative Art, edited by Adolf K. Placzek. New York: Da Capo Press, 1974.

Claims (p. 94) that Villard was a professional master mason, “the only medieval architect of whom we have [in his portfolio] so full a record,” and (p. 93) that his drawings of Reims were made to be used at Cambrai, thus apparently attributing Cambrai to Villard.

Reproduces fols. 17r and 29r after Lassus or Willis although reference is made to J. Quicherat, Facsimile of the Sketchbook of Villard de Honnecourt (London, 1859), apparently an inaccurate reference to Willis.


DIVALD, KÓRNELMagyarország müvészeti emlékei. Budapest: n.publ..

Claims (p. 72) that Villard’s visit to Hungary should not be measured in terms of years and that it is not known what he did while there. Divald proposes that Villard may have worked on fortifications for Béla IV and that if he worked on any cathedral, it would have been that at Eger.

In Hungarian.


HASKINS, CHARLES HOMERThe Renaissance of the Twelfth Century. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. **Reprint. New York: Meridian Books, 1957.

In a discussion of medieval zoology, Haskins makes (p. 329) passing note of the fact that Villard drew his lion (fols. 24r and 24v) from life. Haskins seems to suggest (p. 331) that Villard’s portfolio, called a “sketchbook,” provides information about medieval construction when he notes that “Even the artist’s sketchbook fails us before the time of Villard de Honnecourt, and for long thereafter.”


OMONT, HENRI. See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.III, 2d ed.


PANOFSKY, ERWIN. “Über die Reihenfolge der Vier Meister von Reims,” Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft, pp. 55-82.

Although frequently cited in Villard studies, Panofsky has very little to say about Villard, noting (p. 55) only that Villard’s drawings may provide secondary information about the history of the construction of Reims. He notes that it is uncertain when Villard was there, giving a date in all probability of between 1225 and 1235.



COULTON, G[EORGE] G[ORDON]Art and the Reformation. Oxford: Blackwell. 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953. **published as Medieval Faith and Symbolism. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958.

Under the heading “Four Self-Characterizations” Coulton gives (pp. 95-109) a rather thorough summary of Villard’s career as he understood it. He claims that Villard was a French master mason working ca. 1250 who died ca. 1260, although he states that Villard “wandered back to France” from Hungary after 1272. He attributes to Villard Meaux and Saint-Faron at Meaux (apparently unaware that Villard’s plan on fol. 15r is misidentified as Saint-Faron at Meaux) and Cambrai and Kassa.

Coulton interprets the portfolio as both a wanderer’s sketchbook and a technical manual showing “the variety of a master mason’s jobs.” He disagrees with Willis that the drawings were originally made in the portfolio as it now exists, arguing that they were copied therein from earlier sketches or from memory. He repeats (p. 219) the inaccurate claim that Villard called the Laon tower “the fairest he has seen in all his travels.” Coulton claims (p. 206 n. 1) that Villard may have discussed architecture with Hugues Libergier.

Reproduces drawings, from Willis (?), of the Chartres west rose (fol. 15v), and fols. 7v and 18r.



ANON. “A Thirteenth Century Glass Panel,” International Studio, vol. 92 (March), pp. 40-41, 92.

Claims that a stained glass roundel with a Christ in Majesty figure from the Philadelphia collection of Raymond Pitcairn exhibited at the Demotte Gallery in New York in March 1929 is designed as a composite, based on drawings (head of Christ, fol. 16v; body of Christ, fol. 11r; and drapery of a seated king [Solomon?], fol. 25r) in the Villard portfolio.

The author states (pp. 40-41) that the panel “has, as far as can be ascertained by comparison, been inspired by some of the drawings of Villard de Honnecourt … [and] although none [of these] can be said to be the exact model for this stained glass, [these drawings] have each some relationship with it.” The author does not suggest that the panel itself is the work of Villard. The panel is said to have no major restoration and is dated (p. 92) ca. 1230.

Reproduces from the portfolio the details specified above.


GÁL, LADISLAS. “Villard de Honnecourt.” In L’Architecture religieuse en Hongrie du XIIe au XIIIe siècles. Études d’art et d’archéo1ogie. Paris: Librairie Ernest Leroux, pp. 232-243.

Discusses Villard and Hungary on the basis of three questions: when was he there (and how long did he stay)?; by whom was he sent?; and with what monuments was he associated as builder? Gál rejects (p. 233) Enlart’s thesis (1895.1) that Villard came to Hungary ca. 1235 as too early and rejects Henszlnann’s thesis (1858.3) that he was there ca. 1260-1270 as too late, adopting Quicherat’s thesis (1849.1) that Villard was in Hungary between 1244 and 1251 during suspension of construction at Cambrai. His reasons for going were his devotion to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and his response to the call of her brother, Béla IV, to help rebuild his country after the Mongol invasion of 1242.

Gál then reviews the various claims, especially those of Henszlmann (1857.1), concerning Villard’s association with Kassa and states (p. 238) that the church was not built or rebuilt in the thirteenth century, thus Villard had nothing to do with it. Gál then considers other buildings, especially Jaák and Zsámbék. He criticizes (p. 241) Möåller’s association (1905.2) of Villard with Gyulafehérvár as unacceptable and does admit that if Villard were in Pannonia, the former two projects were the most important underway at that time, and if Villard were connected with any building projects there, it could have been one or both of those.

Gal’s conclusion (p. 242) summarizes the situation very honestly, “En fin de compte, on doit avouer que le dernier problème, soulevé par le séjour de Villard de Honnecourt en Hongrie et qui concerne son activité dans ce pays, est actuellement indéterminable.” He notes that any definite association of Villard with any Hungarian building would have to be based on the discovery of new evidence. [See Gerevich, 1977.3]


STEIN, HENRILes Architectes des cathédrales gothiques. Les Grands Artistes. Paris: Henri Laurens.

Claims (p. 40) that the portfolio is a unique survival of its type, composed by Villard with the “intention de [le] léguer aux gens de son métier.” Stein takes the plan invented by Villard and Pierre de Corbie (fol. 15r) as proof of collaboration between Gothic architects.

Stein repeats (p. 43) the misattribution to Villard of the statement that the Laon tower is “the most beautiful in the world.” He (p. 70) attributes the choir of Cambrai to Villard but notes (p. 108) that Kassa is attributed to Villard without “preuves suffisantes” and that the fact is that “on ne sait au juste quel rôle fut le sien sur la terre étrangère.”

Reproduces fol. 15r with photo credit given to Berthaud, indicating the negative was the same one used for the Omont facsimile.


VITRY, PAULFrench Sculpture during the Reign of Saint Louis, 1226-1270. Florence: Pantheon; New York: Harcourt, Brace, & Co. Reprint. New York: Hacker Art Books, 1973.

Vitry states (p. 54), “It is strange to note that in the designs of Villard de Honnecourt, several figures denoting a very great acquaintance with certain antique themes or types of costume and drapery are treated in their naked parts with a spirit of reality that is sometimes injudicious but is, nevertheless, concise and vigorous.”

For a very different assessment, see Clark, 1956.2.


FOCILLON, HENRI [JOSEPH]. “L’Art de géometrie au moyen age.” In L’Art des sculpteurs romans, recherches sur l’histoire des formes. Paris: Librairie Ernest Leroux. **Reprint Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1964, pp. 209-222.

Discusses in detail Villard’s use of geometry on fols. 18 and 19 for designing figures and indicating movement. Focillon rejects the idea (see Viollet-le-Duc, 1854.1) that Villard’s interest in or use of geometry is haphazard, claiming (p. 211) that it is a system employed by all artists, that it closely parallels the one expounded by Robert Grosseteste of Lincoln, and that both learned it by means of translations of Arabic treatises on mathematics.

Focillon speculates (p. 217) that Villard may have known certain examples of Hiberno-Saxon work in which the same geometric motifs occur. More than most French writers, Focillon insists (p. 210) that the Villard portfolio is not merely an album de croquis, terming it a travail concerté or at least notes mises au point. He also emphasizes that while Villard was an architect and technician of construction, he possessed the great range of interests characteristic of Renaissance man and was a transition figure from Romanesque to Renaissance. Focillon’s most accurate observation occurs in his opening sentence, “Nous ne savons rien, ou presque rien, de Villard de Honnecourt

Reproduces fol. 18r from Lassus.


OMONT, HENRI. See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.III, 3rd ed.



SWARTWOUT, R.EThe Monastic Craftsman. Cambridge: W. Heffner and Sons.

The classic attack on Montalembert’s “monastic artist” thesis in which Villard is identified as a lay architect, whatever his association with the Cistercians. Villard’s architectural drawings are said (p. 116) to be “of the greatest excellence, but they are drawings of actual buildings for the most part, and by no means always correct in detail.” This is noted in the context that there is no proof that medieval architects ever drew detailed working drawings for entire buildings.

Swartwout suggests (p. 102) that Villard’s fol. 32r may indicate the types of templates or template models employed by William of Sens at Canterbury in the 1170s.

The author’s information on the interpretation of Villard is taken principally from Briggs (1927.1) and Willis.

Reproduces fol. 31r after Lassus or Willis.



HAHNLOSER, HANS R[OBERT]. “Entwürfe eines Architeken um 1250 aus Reims.” In Actes du XIIIe Congrès international d’histoire de l’art. Stockholm: n.p., pp. 260-262.

Summary of a paper presented at the XIIIth International Congress on the History of Art held at Stockholm in 1933. Hahnloser’s principal concern is the architectural drawings in the Reims Palimpsest (Reims, Archives de la Maine, MS. G.661), which he dates ca. 1250. Villard’s portfolio is discussed briefly (p. 262) as a precursor to these finer architectural drawings and as confirmation of the Gothic architect’s habit of balancing between practical experience (Handwerk) and theoretical treatises (geometrischen Traktaten) in creating their designs.



AUBERT, MARCEL. Review of Hahnloser facsimile (F.IV). In Bulletin monumental, vol. 94, pp. 403-405.

A generally laudatory review claiming that “il [Hahnloser] a épuisé tout ce que l’on peut désirer savoir de ‘l’Album’ et de son auteur.” This review was more important for what it did not say, since Aubert steadfastly referred to the portfolio as an album, thus indirectly rejecting Hahnloser’s claim that it was a Bauhüttenbuch (see Hahnloser, 1971.4).


HAHNLOSER, HANS R[OBERT]. “See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.IV, 1st ed.


MOREY, C[HARLES] R[UFUS]. Review of Hahnloser facsimile (F.IV). In Art Bulletin, vol. 17, pp. 509-511.

Terms (p. 509) Hahnloser’s study “a beautifully executed book, the definitive monograph” on the Villard portfolio and appears to accept most of Hahnloser’s interpretations and conclusions.

For Morey, the portfolio was a pattern book more than either an album or a Bauhüttenbuch, and he claims (p. 510) that many of the drawings (e.g., the Ecclesia figure, fol. 4v) clearly were copied from other pattern books.

More than any other reviewer, Morey does his own analysis of the contents of the portfolio and makes some very im-portant observations. He considers in some detail Villard’s drawing style and, especially, his approach to drawing as assembling parts rather than being concerned with the whole, a process Morey terms “progressive construction. (fols. 20r and 20v).

Morey observes (p. 510) that Master II’s expression “par chu fait om” is a translation of stock Greek OUTWS NOIEI or Latin sic quaeres formulas in pattern books or instructional manuals, “whereby he [Master II] betrays his dependence on earlier collections [of recipes].”

Morey’s summary of the importance of the Villard drawings is (p. 511) that “It is difficult to find a more suggestive material with which to build a theory of Gothic aesthetic.”


ÜBERWASSER, WALTER. “Nach rechtem Masz [Mass]: Aussagen über den Begriff des Maszes in der Kunst des XIII.-XVI. Jahrhunderts,” Jahrbuch der Preuszischen Kunstsammlung, vol. 56, pp. 250-272.

One of the most frequently cited studies on the use of ad quadratum and ad triangulum design principles in medieval art, principles of design “according to correct measure (nach rechtem Mass). Überwasser devotes a special discussion (pp. 259-261) to Villard, although Villard is also mentioned elsewhere.

Überwasser claims (p. 259) that the Villard portfolio has falsely been called a “sketchbook,” since it contains “Blatt fiir Blatt . . . Anweisungen zum Planen von Bauten, Tier- und Menschenfiguren und von Maschinen.” He says all these figures are for instructional purposes and that the geometry of each is clear, whether left exposed (fols. 18 and 19) or not. He does not accept the view (see Frankl, 1960.6) that these geometric schemata were secrets known to only a few, but rather, that they were commonly known and used by all designers. He notes that Villard’s followers (Werkstattnachfolgern, i.e., Master II and Master III) knew and drew (fol. 20) the key to designing ad quadratum (quadrature) and that this is the same schema found later in Mathes Roritzer. He analyzes (pp. 260-261) these figures, admitting that while their purpose is not always clear, let alone obvious, their geometry is invariable.

Üherwasser also claims (p. 261) that Villard understood the principle of ad quadratum design and could recognize it when it was in use, most notably in connection with the plan of the Laon tower (fol. 9v). Misquoting Villard on the “loveliness” of this tower, Überwasser reproduces (fig. 7) Villard’s drawing with his own geometric overlay of rotating squares to illustrate how the design was made. His conclusion, that it was designed from the outside in and from the bottom up, is the exact opposite of that reached by Velte (1951.3) in her study of the same problem (see Ackerman, 1953.1, and Branner, 1955.2).

Überwasser concludes (p. 261) that when Villard used the expressions faire droit and droite montee (fol. 30v) he meant that something had to be designed “according to correct measure, ” that is, on the basis of a standard geometric principle; and that because he understood these principles so well and could adopt them so widely, Villard should not be thought of as a little master like Roriczer but as a great master like Albrecht Diirer.

Überwasser refers (p. 260 n.l ) to Hahnloser’s pending publication of a facsimile edition of the Villard portfolio which he criticizes and claims should be published only after the appearance of this article.


SWARZENSKI, HANNS. “Zwei Zeichnungen der Martinslegende aus Tournai,” Adolph Goldschmidt, zi seinem siebzigsten Geburtstag am 15. Januar 1933, Berlin: Würfel Velag, 1935, pp. 40-42.

Discusses the style of drawing of the legend of St. Martin of Tours on two leaves of a manuscript produced at Tournai (London, British Library, Ms. Add. 15216 [SIC = 15219]) and compares it to the classical style of Villard de Honnecourt and Nicolas of Verdun.



HORVÁTH, HENRI. “Villard de Honnecourt et la Hongrie,” Nouvelle Revue de Hongrie (October), pp. 332-344.

Inspired by the Hahnloser facsimile, this study examines the relationship between Villard and Hungary. Horváth accepts (p. 332) Hahnloser’s view of the portfolio as a Bauhüttenbuch and claims that its purpose was the instruction of other masons, Villard’s variation from reality being a ‘correction consciente du modèle.” He believes (p. 335) that Villard had played an important role in the construction of Cambrai and Meaux, and had worked possibly at Chartres and Reims before his visit to Hungary. He insists that Villard was an established master who was called to Hungary ca. 1235 by Béla IV or by the Cistercians.

Horváth’s principal thesis (pp. 336 and 341) is that Villard’s trip and works preceded the Tartar invasion and that he represents the last great wave of French influence on Hungarian Gothic art, “l’influence française . . . culmine en la personne de Villard.”

He then considers one by one the buildings ascribed by earlier authors to Villard and concludes that not one can definitely be associated with Villard. For Horváth, Esztergom and Kassa are traditionally and circumstantially the most likely projects on which Villard worked, but no definite connection can be proven in either case. He does claim (p. 334) that the pavement design on fol. 15v of the manuscript is Roman work at the royal palace at Esztergom (see, however, Gerevich, 1971.3). Horváth dismisses (pp. 340-341) Eger, Gyulafehérvár, Jaák, and Zsámbék as Romanesque buildings completely different from Villard’s style as known through his portfolio.

Reproduces fols. 2r, 10r, l0v, and 15v.


RÉAU, LOUIS. Review of Hahnloser facsimile (F.IV). In Gazette des beaux-arts. 6th ser., vol. 16, pp. 265-266.

Terms the Hahnloser facsimile the monumental and definitive edition of the Villard portfolio and agrees (p. 265) that Hahnloser’s designation of it as a Baubüttenbuch or Livre de l’oeuvre is more accurate than the traditional designation album. Réau characterizes (p. 265) the portfolio as being “un recueil de modèles de caractère didactique, à l’usage des architectes qui travaillaient avec lui [i.e., Villard] et sous sa direction. Réau also employs (p. 266) the term Livre du chantier.

He summarizes Hahnloser’s biography of Villard, which he apparently accepts: trained at Vaucelles, architect of Saint-Quentin, in Hungary no later than 1235 and possibly as early as 1220.


WORMALD, FRANCIS. Review of Hahnloser facsimile (F.IV). In Burlington Magazine, vol. 68, pp. 251-252.

Emphasizes the thoroughness of Hahnloser’s study, pointing out that it is much more than a straightforward facsimile edition. Wormald concentrates on Hahnloser’s analysis of the form of the portfolio and Villard’s style as an artist, noting that the leaves were originally kept, unbound, in a portfolio and (p. 252) that the Hortus Delicarum of Herrad of Landesberg was also originally so maintained. Wormald reports Hahnloser’s conclusions that the Villard portfolio was a pattern book made by Villard for those working under him, and that Villard’s figures without facial details are based on sculpted models whereas those with detailed facial features are based on painted models. He appears to accept both interpretations.

Wormald concludes (p. 252) that “The book [by Hahnloser] is packed with detail of every kind, almost too packed for comfortable and digestible reading.”



ANONLes Plus Beaux Manuscrits français du VIIIe au XVIe siècle conservés dans les bibliothèques nationales de Paris. Catalog no. 73. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, pp. 39-40.

The Villard portfolio was exhibited showing fols. 18v and 19r, with the geometric figures of those folios termed “modèles de dessins.” It is claimed that in these drawings proportions were determined by geometry and that, “Plus encore que les pages qui portent des dessins de sculpture et l’architecture les feuillets exposés révélent un technique sûre.

Villard is said to have been born at the beginning of the thirteenth century and is called a “dessinateur,” but no mention is made of him as an architect, possibly because “Nous ignorons les détails de sa carriere.”

A detail of the Virgin and Child on fol. 10v appears on the title page.


VAN MOE, ÉMILE-AURÈLE. “Les Manuscrits sous les capetiens,” Arts et métiers graphiques, vol. 60 (1 November), pp. 40-41, 44.

One of a series of summaries of the periods of manuscripts exhibited in 1937 at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. The Villard portfolio is mentioned (p. 44) in passing as a “document unique … de l’architecte Villard de Honnecourt, qui montre de si curieuses constructions géometriques pour mettre en place les figures animées.

Pages 40-41 present a full-scale, double-page spread of fols. 18v and 19r.



FOCILLON, HENRI [JOSEPH]Art d’occident. Paris: Armand Cohn. **English trans. The Art of the West in the Middle Ages. vol. 2, Gothic Art. London: Phaidon Press, 1963.

Contains scattered references to Villard, attributing (p. 49) to him the design of Saint-Quentin, stating (p. 66) that he went to Hungary as a designer of Cistercian buildings (none of which is specified). The author notes (p. 85 n. 1) that Villard was especially influenced by the sculpture of Reims and what Focillon terms the “Atticism of Champagne.”

Focillon’s most important observation (p. 192) is that “no one was ever more vigorously of his own time and that it is a mistake to view Villard as a precursor of the Renaissance. See, however, Focillon, 1931.1.

GEREVICH, TIBORMagyarország románkori emlékei [Romanesque Artistic Relics in Hungary] Budapest: Kiralyi Magyar Egyetemi Nyomda, 1938, pp. 48-50.

Tibor Gerevich, uncle of László Gerevich (see 1971.3), was for many years head of the Department of Art History at the University of Budapest. The older Gerevich proposes here that Villard’s drawing of a Hungarian pavement (Fol. 15v) was based on a floor mosaic excavated at Székesfehérvár. This claim is more believable than his claim (pp. 49-50) that Villard was architect of Cambrai and was called to Hungary by Bela IV to build Buda Castle.
Illustrates Villard’s Hungarian pavement drawing (Fol. 15v).



ADHÉMAR, JEAN. “Villard de Honnecourt.” In Influences antiques dans l’art du moyen age français: Recherches sur les sources et les thèmes d’inspiratlon. Studies of the Warburg Institute, no. 7. London: Warburg Institute, pp. 278-280. [Photographic Reprint. Nendeln: Kraus Reprint, 1968]

Calls (p. 278) Villard an “artiste rémois,” the “meilleur éléve français” of the Master of the Antique Figures of the north arm portals of Reims. While he suggests that Villard played an important role at Reins, collaborating with the architects, designing at their sides, and even offering his own designs (e.g., fol. 31v: dado arcade for the nave aisle wall), Adhémar stops short of terming Villard an architect. He apparently considers him to have been a sculptor, although he does not explicitly say so. He states that because Villard was called to Hungary ca. 1241, he knew only the north arm statues at Reims and not the more famous Visitation group of the central portal of the west facade.

Adhémar stresses Villard’s knowledge of geometry from Vitruvius and his interest in antique statuary as a source for models. He concludes (p. 279) that Villard’s drawing of what Villard termed a Saracen tomb (fol. 6r) was in fact an ivory Byzantine consular diptych (now lost) , and that the drawing is so poor because Villard tried to alter the model which he had apparently seen only briefly and later drew from memory. This may represent an error on Adhémar’s part, where Villard’s statement that the drawing was of a tomb he once saw is taken as an indication that the drawing followed the encounter with the model rather than that the inscription was a later addition. Adhémar contrasts this drawing with Villard’s more accurate renderings of nudes (fols. 11v and 22r) based on classical bronze statuettes (the sources of which Adhémar identifies; the statuettes are reproduced in pls. XXXIV and XXXV). He says these drawings are more accurate than that of the ivory because Villard had tine to study these models with some care; but he concludes (p. 280) that Villard’s drawings after the antique are nonetheless “étrange, mi-gothique, mi-classique.”

Despite its brevity, this is one of the better analyses of Villard’s attitude toward and ability to deal with antique models.



SCHÜRENBERG, L[ISA]. “Villard de Honnecourt.” In Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwalt, begründet von Ulrich Thieme und Felix Becker, vol. 34. Leipzig: Verlag E.A. Seemann, pp. 368-369.

Gives a brief biography of Villard and a somewhat longer analysis of the portfolio, both closely following Hahnloser. The author states (p. 368) that the portfolio, made ca. 1230/1235, is now [since Hahnloser) correctly called a Bauhüttenbuch whereas formerly it had unjustly been termed a Skizzenbuch. She also claims that the portfolio, when Villard and his successors added inscriptions, became a teaching treatise (Traktates).


VON STOCKHAUSEN, HANS-ADALBERT. “Zur ältesten Baugeschichte der Elisabethkirche in Marburg a[n]. d[er]. Lahn,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, vol. 9, pp. 175-187.

An attempt to determine the sources and dates of the choir of Marburg. The author traces the trefoil plan, and especially the construction, to France. The source of the construction of Marburg, on the basis of the building’s details, is said to be Reims. Von Stockhausen compares Cambrai and Marburg in some depth, but rejects (largely by ignoring) the attribution of either church to Villard.



KURTH, BETTY. “Matthew Paris and Villard de Honnecourt,” Burlington Magazine, vol. 81, pp. 224, 227-228.

Traces the iconographic history of wrestlers (fol. 14v) and of the image of a man falling from a horse (fol. 3v) as found in Matthew of Paris’s Historia Maior and the Villard portfolio. Kurth notes the parallelism of the two but stresses that whereas both of Paris’s images were inspired by actual events, Villard’s cannot be proved to be so.

She specifically associates (p. 228) Villard’s figure of Pride with a relief at Chartres. Pointing out the common interest Matthew and Villard had in the antique and in animals drawn from life, Kurth nonetheless concludes (p. 228), “No direct influences [between the two artists] can be traced. Their stylistic ways are widely different.”

Reproduces details of fols. 3v and 14v.



PEVSNER, NIKOLAUSAn Outline of European Architecture. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. **7th rev. ed. 1963.

Terms (p. 94) Villard an architect and calls his portfolio a “textbook, prepared about 1235” which was addressed to his pupils. Pevsner claims that the portfolio is “invaluable as a source of information on the methods and attitude [of an artist?] of the thirteenth century.”

While he summarizes and appears to emphasize the variety of subjects found in the portfolio (without distinguishing between Villard’s drawings and later additions), he stresses (p. 116) the lack of imagination of the Gothic artist and his dependency on existing models. The author makes the sweeping and undocumented generalization that “Even Villard de Honnecourt copied [existing designs] in nine out of ten of his pages.”

Reproduces fols. 14v, 17, and 30v after Lassus or Willis.


DERCSÉNYI, DEZSUÖ. A székesfehérvári királyi bazilika [The royal Basilica in Székesfehérvár], Budapest, Müemlékek Országos Bizottsága, 1943, pp. 28-29. This study attempts to link Villard’s drawing of a Hungarian floor pavement (fol. 15v) and a floor mosaic in the Christian Museum at Esztergom. His thesis is unconvincing because the Eszertom example he used is not very like the Villard drawing and is part of the Schnütgen Collection from Cologne, Germany. His claim (pp. 28-29) that Villard’s drawing may be based on a pavement design at Székesfehérvár seems more probable.

Reproduces Villard’s pavement drawing as Fig. 6.



FRANKL, PAUL. Review of A Brief Commentary on Early Mediaeval Church Architecture …, by Kenneth John Conant. In Art Bulletin, vol. 26, p. 200.

Villard is brought into this review as typifying the medieval architect who was “unable to explain his ideas save with the pencil alone,” lacking the technical vocabulary necessary to explain verbally his ideas and design processes.


LAVEDAN, PIERRE [LOUIS LÉON]L’Architecture française. Paris: Librairie Larousse. **English trans. French Architecture. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1956.

Makes (p. 45) the astonishing claim that Villard’s notebooks [sic] are the only document from the Middle Ages “dealing with the practice of the architect’s profession,” and that the “regulations” therein seem to confirm that Viollet-le-Duc (1854.1, s.v. “proportion”) was correct in insisting that geometry was the basis of design in medieval architecture.



FRANKL, PAUL. “The Secret of the Mediaeval Masons,” Art Bulletin, vol. 27, pp. 46-64.

Very important although brief commentary on the use of geometry in the Villard portfolio claiming (pp. 57-58) that Villard’s “net of squares” (the human “face in the square “on fol. 19v) was not a system of design but a means of “enlargement of a small sketch to the desired size of the finished work,” for which reason this geometry did not have to be as precise as that used by masons.

Conversely, Frankl states that the schemata for halving and doubling a square employed on fol. 20r by Master II, ca. 1260, were taken from Vitruvius and, although incomplete or unclear, prove the use of quadrature in medieval architecture long before it was more carefully explained by Mathes Roriczer and Hanns Schmuttermayer.

Reproduces a detail of fol. 20 after Hahnloser.


HARVEY, JOHN H[OOPER]. “The Education of the Mediaeval Architect,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 53, pp. 230-234.

Cites (p. 232) Hahnloser as proof that Villard was literate, writing in both French and Latin. Harvey then uses this statement as proof “that the highest class of craftsman-architect of the Middle Ages was literate.”

He follows Hahnloser’s Bauhüttenbuch theory, terming the portfolio a “practical encyclopaedia of the building arts and crafts compiled for the permanent ‘lodge’ of a great church, probably … Saint-Quentin,” and he suggests that Master II and Master III were Villard’s successors in this lodge.



KAYSER, HANSEin harmonikaler Teilungskanon, Analyse einer geometrischen Figur im Bauhüttenbuch Villard de Honnecourt. Zurich: Occident-Verlag.

An article-length (32 pp.) attempt to demonstrate the use of Pythagorian musical proportion as the basis for the geometry in three of Villard’s figures: fol. 18r, two figures at the bottom; and fol. 19r, rightmost figure in the second row from the top. While the geometric design itself is unquestionably that generated from the Pythagorian monochord, Kayser does not convince the reader that Villard understood its musical basis. Kayser apparently worked from photographs of the original folios, and the significance of Kayser’s claim may be summarized in his own admission (p. 30) that Villard’s geometry does not match that of the Pythagoriam design when correctly drawn.

Kayser makes a number of references to Hahnloser and clearly accepts his view that the manuscript was a Bauhüttenbuch, as his title proves.


SAMARAN, CHARLES. “Lectures sous les rayons ultra-violets, V: L’Album de Villard de Honnecourt,” Romanis, vol. 69 (1946- 1947), pp. 91-93.

Brief analysis of the inscriptions found on fols. 1r and 23v of the Villard portfolio that can be read only under ultraviolet light. Contains the same conclusions given more fully in his later study (1973.4) but dates the inscriptions to the reigns of Henry IV (1572-1610) or Louis XIII (1610-1643). Samaran claims (p. 91) that “aucun dessin nouveau n’est apperçu” when the manuscript was examined under ultraviolet light by Hahnloser.



AUBERT, MARCELL’Architecture cistercienne en France. Vol. 1. Paris: Vanoest Editions d’art et d’histoire.

Compares (pp. 194-195) Villard’s Cistercian church plan (fol. 14v) to that of Fontainjeans and to those of several English Cistercian churches (Byland, Dore, Waverley). On pp. 225-226 Aubert discusses Villard and Vaucelles, which he dates 1190-1235, and claims that Villard’s plan (fol. 17r) of the Vaucelles choir is “sommaire mais précis.” On p. 225 n. 5 Aubert cites Enlart (1895.1) and states that Villard “travailla sur les chantiers de Vaucelles, et peut-être en assuma la direction.”

He also notes that Villard’s Vaucelles plan was the source of inspiration for the plan (fol. 15r) devised in discussions with Pierre do Corbie.

Reproduces details of fol. 14v and 17r after Lassus.


HECKSHER, WILLIAM S. “Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk,” Art Bulletin, vol. 19, pp. 155-182.

Claims (p. 164) that “the palm for ‘intended realism’ has always gone to Villard de Honnecourt’s famous lion” (fol. 24v), and that what is important is Villard’s intention (wollen), not his actual achievement (können). On p. 164 n. 40 he notes that Villard’s side view of the lion (fol. 24r) “has some merits for realisn” and suggests two very close parallels, possibly models, for Villard’s frontal view of the lion (fol. 24v): the lion of San Marco in Venice and that in Lambert de Saint-Omer’s Liber Floridus, ca. 1120 (Ghent, Universiteitsbibliotheek, MS. 92, fol. 56v).



EVANS, JOANArt in Mediaeval France, 987-1498. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Contains a number of references to Villard, most of which are taken from or based on earlier studies. Evans calls (p. 89) Villard an architect and claims (p. 126 n. 2) that he may possibly have been the architect of Saint-Quentin. She also proposes, at least indirectly, that he was a sculptor or that certain of his drawings were for sculpture, suggesting (p. 96 n. 5), after Adhémar (1939.1), that Villard may have been a pupil of the Master of the Antique Figures at Reims.

Reproduces fol. 16r.


WISSNER, ADOLPH. “Die Entwicklung der zeichnerischen Darstellung von Maschinen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Maschinenbaus in Deutschland bis zum Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts.” Ph.D. dissertation, Universität München.

Not seen. Wolfgang Schöller (see 1978.6) called this unpublished work to my attention as containing a discussion of Villard’s mechanical devices.



DIMIER, M.-ANSELMERecueil de plans d’églises cisterciennes. Paris: Librairie d’art ancien et moderne.

Discusses (pp. 39-41) the history of the Gothic choir at Vaucelles, dated 1190-1235, which because of its sumptuousness caused a great scandal in the Cistercian order. Dimier claims that Vaucelles “était et reste la plus grande de toutes les églises cisterciennes.” In a note (p. 41 n. 67) he states “On croit que c’est Villard de Honnecourt qui en [i.e. , choeur de Vaucelles] fut larchitecte” but that the sole evidence for this belief is Villard’s drawing of the Vaucelles plan (fol. 17r) and also the analogous plan (fol. 15r) done in collaboration with Pierre de Corbie.

Reproduces fol. 17r after Lassus.


HAMANN-MacLEAN, RICHARD H. L. “Antikenstudium in der Kunst des Mittelalters,” Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft, vol. 15 (1949-1950), pp. 157-250.

Repeats (p. 193) Adhémar’s (1939.1) and Hahnloser’s identifications of antique models in what the author terms Villard’s Musterbuch, illustrating a seated bronze satuette to which Villard’s seated male figures on fols. 14r and 22r are compared. The author provides (p. 246) a brief list of Villard’s studies after the antique: the two figures cited above, the leaf-faces (fols. 5v and 22r), two standing figures (fol. 28r). Hamann-MacLean believes Villard encountered most (all?) of these models at Reims.


LEFRANÇOIS PILLION, LOUISE. “Un maître d’oeuvre et son album: Villard de Honnecourt.” In Maîtres d’oeuvres et tailleurs de pierre des cathédrales. Paris: Robert Laffont, pp. 61-70.

Poetic view of Villard as (p. 63) “le type les plus illustre et le plus significatif de ces artistes français [du moyen âge] à l’étranger” and as (p. 70) “un prince de métier.” Stresses the unique significance of the portfolio, suggesting (p. 62) that it has lost twenty to twenty-five leaves and noting (p. 65) that its pêle-mêle character and cluttered drawings are attributable to the high cost of parchment.

Lefrançois Pillion dates (p. 63) Villard’s activity to 1230-1250 and his trip to Hungary to 1244-1247, attributing Kassa to him. She attributes no French buildings to Villard. Her analysis of Villard’s wide range of interests leads to criticism of two of Hahnloser’s claims: that Villard’s figures with unfinished faces are based on sculpted models and that Villard did not know Latin. The author proposes that Villard was so technical-minded that he must have had some encounter with the trivium in a university setting.

She makes the important point (p. 67) that it is her instinct that Villard first made his drawings on fols. 18r, 18v, 19r, and 19v, then applied the geometric patterns to them.

Reproduces fol. 19r redrawn after Lassus.


ÜBERWASSER, WALTER. “Massgerechte Bauplanung der Gotik an Beispieien Villards de Honnecourt,” Kunstchronik, pp. 200-204.

Summary of a lecture in which Überwasser reaffirmed his belief (1935.4) that Villard understood both ad quadratum (fol. 9v, Laon tower plan) and ad triangulum (fol. 7r, lectern) geometric principles of design and that he designed from the outside in (see Velte, 1951.3).

Überwasser insists on the accuracy of quadrature for determining the correct replacements of all elements of a building, for example, piers, and claims that this can be proven by analysis of Villard’s drawn plans although it is not readily apparent.

In the discussion which followed, Dagobert Frey suggested that Villard’s geometric schemata were only aids to craftsmen and that in actual construction measurements had to be determined in more detail. Ernst Gall questioned whether Villard’s plans could be executed and criticized the inaccuracies of his drawings of Reims, which accord neither with the building itself nor with one another.


WALTERS ART GALLERY, THEIlluminated Books of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Baltimore: Trustees of The Walters Art Gallery.

Catalog of an exhibition held in Baltimore in 1949, with text by Dorothy Miner. Item 63 in this exhibition was a fragment of a missal made for Noyon use, from the Hofer Collection in Rockport, Maine (now, according to Scheller, 1963.5, p. 93, at Harvard University, MS. Typ 120H), which has been attributed to Villard (see Vitzthum, 1914.2). Miner (p. 25) agrees that the style of the figures in this manuscript is close to that employed by Villard but the “outright attribution of these paintings to Villard is no longer agreed to by scholars.”


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