BIBLIO — Writings 1950-1981

Writings on Villard de Honnecourt, 1950-1981


DEGENHARDT, BERNHARD. “Autonome Zeichungen bei mittelalterlich Künstlern,” Münchener Jahrbuch, vol. 3.

Not yet reviewed. Called to my attention by Wolfgang Schöller (1978.6) as concerning Villard.


HARVEY, JOHN H[OOPER]The Gothic World, 1100-1600: A Survey of Architecture and Art. London: B.T. Batsford. **Reprint. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1969.

Emphasizes (pp. 7 and 26) the Villard portfolio as “a thoroughly practical ‘building encyclopaedia.'” Harvey clams (p. 29) that Villard’s drawings are “the earliest surviving [medieval] drawings which are strictly architectural,” speaks of their “exquisite quality, precision, and finished technique,” and apparently believes in the “secret of the medieval masons” theory, for he states (p. 22) that the portfolio “throws light on the secrets of the craft.”

He cites Hahnloser (F.IV) as proof that Villard knew both French and Latin and calls Master II and Master III presumably the next two masters of the lodge,” meaning the lodge which Villard headed. Despite his familiarity with Hahnloser, Harvey misattributes (p. 26) the celebrated phrase inter se disputanto (fol. 15r) to Villard.

Harvey states (p. 69) that Villard probably was chief master of Saint-Quentin and possibly was designer of the Cambrai choir. He dates Villard’s trip to Hungary before 1250 but does not attribute any specific buildings there to Villard. Much of this material is taken from 1945.2.



PANOFSKY, ERWINGothic Architecture and Scholasticism. Latrobe, Pa.: Saint Vincent Archabbey Press. **2d ed. London: Thames and Hudson, 1957.

Claims (pp. 87-88) that the plan (fol. 15r) drawn by Villard and Pierre de Corbie proves that by the mid-thirteenth century “Scholastic dialectics had driven architectural thinking to a point where it almost ceased to be architectural.” Panofsky notes that Master II’s inscription inter se disputando is a specifically scholastic term and that this plan is an attempt to reconcile opposites (rounded and square chapels). He elsewhere (p. 77) claims that Villard observed and exaggerated the scholastic use of an enlarged central colonnette in the Reims triforium.

Reproduces fol. 15r and a detail of fol. 31v.


ÜBERWASSER, WALTER. “Die Turmzeichungen Villards de Honnecourt.” In Festschrift für Hans Jantzen. Berlin: Verlag Gebr. Mann, pp. 47-50.

A section of an article entitled “Deutsche Architekturdarstellung um das Jahr 1200” which reproduces Villard’s horologe (fol. 6v) and Laon tower elevation (fol. 10v), claiming that both are based on the design principle of quadrature and that both illustrate the medieval principle of reductiones formae et numeri from actuality in order to indicate essentials.


VELTE, MARIADie Anwendung der Quadratur und Triangulatur bei der Grund- und Aufrissgestaltung der gotischen Kirchen. Basler Studien zur Kunstgeschichte, no. 8. Basel: Verlag Birkhauser AG.

A short essay concentrating mainly on late Gothic uses of geometry in design, for example, by Mathes Roriczer and Lorenz Lechler. Velte analyzes (pp. 53-55) Villard’s plan of a tower at Laon (fol. 9v) for the use of quadrature and, despite clearly noting that “Selbstverständlich ist eine händig auf das Pergament geworfene Skizze nicht so exakt wie der Pergamentriss einer Bauhütte,” and admitting that one has to work downward from the keystone and from the inside out because the baseline is not included in the drawing, she concludes that Villard used quadrature to determine even the smallest details. The significance of this (p. 54) is “Somit hat man auch schon im frühen 13. Jahrhundert nach der Quadratur konstruiert.”

Velte’s thesis is illustrated in pl. VIII on p. 100.



CROMBIE, A[LISTAIR] C[AMERON]Augustine to Galileo: The History of Science, A.D. 400-1650. London: Falcon Press. **Rev. ed. Medieval and Early Modern Science, vol. 1, Science in the Middle Ages: V-XIII Centuries. Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1959.

Terms Villard a thirteenth-century architect and attributes (p. 205) to him “parts of Laon, Reims, Chartres, and other French cathedrals.” Specific focus is on Villard’s mechanical devices. It is claimed (p. 198) that if Villard’s waterpowered sawmill (fol. 22v) represents something actually used, it is earlier by a century that the first documented example of this device in Europe.

Crombie also says (p. 211) that Villard’s device for making an angel turn so its finger always points to the sun (fol. 22v) is the earliest known drawing of an escapement movement in the West.

Reproduces a cropped photograph of fol. 22v for which the source is given as the “Bodley’s Librarian, Oxford.”


SALZMAN, L[OUIS] FBuilding in England Down to 1540: A Documentary History. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 2d rev. ed. 1967; 3d rev. ed. 1979.

Does not refer to Villard as an architect but praises his drawings of architecture (p. 16) as “jottings for his own use, . . . workmanlike little drawings containing all the essential features of such plans [as were used in the thirteenth century] and perfectly comprehensible to any craftsman.”

Salzman is especially taken by Villard’s two drawings illustrating the principle of the hammer-beam (fol. 17v), noting (p. 18) that these must represent Villard’s theories and not actual examples of the hammer-beam roof since no actual example “is known for about a century after Villard’s time.”

Reproduces fol. 15v, to which the statement cited from p. 16 refers.


VON SIMPSON, OTTO. “The Gothic Cathedral,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 11, pp. 6-16.

Citing neither Bénard (1864.1) nor Enlart (1895.1), Von Simpson makes (p. 15) one of the strongest claims, without offering any proof whatsoever, that Villard “seems to have received his architectural training at the Cistercian monastery of Vaucelles and certainly was employed as an architect by the [Cistercian] Order.” Von believes (p. 15) that “Villard was a distinguished architect” and notes, “Perhaps the most important single piece of evidence regarding the principles of Gothic design is the famous model by the Picard architect Villard de Honnecourt in the second quarter of the 13th century.”

In discussing Villard’s plan for the Laon tower (fol. 9v), Von Simpson repeats the misattribution to Villard of the statement that it was “the most beautiful in the world” and accepts Überwasser’s claim (1949.4) that in Villard’s drawing, all horizontal sections are recessed “according to true measure.”



ACKERMAN, JAMES S. Review of Die Anwendung der Quadratur und Triangulatur bei der Grund- und Aufriasgestaltung der gotischen Kirchen, by Maria Velte. In Art Bulletin, vol. 35, pp. 155-157.

Complete summary of Velte’s analysis (1951.3) of Villard’s fol. 9v plan of the Laon Tower. Ackerman accepts Velte’s contention that Villard’s drawing proves the design principle of quadrature was known and used in the thirteenth century.


DU COLOMBIER, PIERRELes Chantiers de cathédrales. Paris: Editions A. et J. Picard et Cie.

Accepts (pp. 63 and 86) Hahnloser ‘s view that the Villard portfolio was a shop manual (termed by Du Colombier a Baubuch), although he insists it must be called an album. His view (p. 63) is that the portfolio began as a simple “recueil personnel de notes” and later evolved into a “vrai encyclopédie” concerning architecture, sculpture, and mechanics. However, Du Colombier insists that Villard’s architectural drawings were mere suggestions, not models or working drawings. He considers (p. 86) the portfolio as the best existing proof of the combination of medieval architect and sculptor in one person but elsewhere (p. 22) claims that Villard was an inventor.

The main focus (pp. 86-90) of Du Colombier’s interest in Villard is what the drawings reveal about the working procedures of the Gothic artist. He believes that while Villard may have drawn his lion (fols. 24 and 24v) al vif, as he claimed, there was interposed between model and drawing an unavoidable fixed mental image (Gedankenbild) of what a lion looked like established by authority and tradition, and Villard unconsciously employed this image. In Du Colombier’s view, the more difficult the artist’s task (for example, drawing something in movement or directly from nature) the more discernible this Gedankenbild will be.

The author raises the question of whether sculptors or painters first began to observe and model directly from nature and concludes that it was sculptors because painters relied longer on fixed formulas and geometric schemata. However, in examining (p. 86) Villard’s use of geometric schemata (fols. 18, 18v, 19, 19v), he concludes that the relationship between the geometric figure and human or animal figure is at best arbitrary and that at least in some instances the geometric schemata “ont été ajoutés après coup.”


EICHLER, HANS. “Ein frühgotische Grundriss der Liebfrauenkirche in Trier,” Trier Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kunst des Trier Landes und seiner Nachbargebiete, vol. 28, pp. 145-166.

Discusses (p. 145) the Villard portfolio, termed a Bauhüttenbuch, as the first example since Carolingian times of architectural plans drawn on parchment. Eichler says that Villard drew his plans as models for his own work and that he copied these at least in part from larger working drawings in various workshops. He notes that Villard’s plans have no indication of scale but insists that they have correct measure (rechten mass; see Überwasser, 1935.4), being drawn according to binding geometric rules.

He suggests (p. 165) that there is a conceptual relationship in the choir plans of Cambrai, Braine, Marburg, and Trier, all stemming from Cambrai, whose plan Villard modernized when he drew it, but he does not attribute any of these buildings to Villard.



DANIEL-ROPS, HENRI [pseud. for Henri Jules Charles Petiot]. Comment on bâtissait les cathédrales. Visages de l’église, no. 1. Paris: Le Centurion.

Essay with a thesis the exact opposite of Renan’s (1862.1), namely, that Gothic cathedrals represent one of the greatest achievements of the human spirit and the Christian faith. Villard is taken (p. 42) as someone who belonged to the “aristocratie de son métier” and as proof of the extraordinary scientific knowledge possessed by thirteenth-century architects. Daniel-Rops stresses the idea that Villard is the best known of all medieval architects because of his portfolio.


DEMAISON, LOUISCathédrale de Reims. Petites Monographies des grands édifices de la France. Paris: Henri Laurens, Editeur.

Demaison here (p. 23) repeats in summary form his earlier (1902.2) study of Villard’s relationship to Reims, dating his visit there to the second quarter of the thirteenth century and claiming that Villard’s drawings reveal the state of construction of Reims at the time of that visit.


SWARZENSKI, HANNSMonuments of Romanesque Art, London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1954, fig. 547.

Illustrates, without commentary, Villard’s “Sleeping Apostle” (fol. 23v), here dated ca. 1240, and a small 13th-century bronze image of the same subject (London, Peter Wilson Collection).



ANONLes Manuscrits à peintures en France du XIIIe au XVIe siècle. Preface by Andre Malraux. Catalog no. 8. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, p. 11.

The Villard portfolio was exhibited to show fol. 4r. The brief text summarizes the contents of the portfolio, with one factual error: fol. 15 is said to contain plans of Meaux and Saint-Faron at Meaux in addition to the choir plan drawn by Villard and Pierre de Corbie. The portfolio is dated “milieu du XIIIe siècle” and Villard is called an architect. It notes that his use of geometry to permit rapid design of figures (fols. 18v and 19r) is found in contemporary French manuscripts and refers to a Bible moralisée (MS lat. 11.560) in the same exhibition (Catalog no. 6, p. 7).


BRANNER, ROBERT. Review of Les Chantiers des cathédrales, by Pierre Du Colombier (1953.2). In Art Bulletin, vol. 37, pp. 61-65.

Suggests (p. 64) that the chapter concerning the sculptor (in which the bulk of the discussion of Villard is found) “seems almost to have been an afterthought. It contains the main results of Hahnloser’s study of Villard, and especially emphasizes the conclusion that what may originally have been an architect’s sketchbook was soon transformed into a workshop accessory which was used as a kind of encyclopaedia of solutions to mathematical and structural problems and of models for sculptors.”

Discussing the difficulty of discovering and correctly interpreting geometrical schemata in medieval buildings, Branner calls attention (p. 63) to the fact that Überwasser (1949.4) and Velte (1951.3) “with reasoned explanations, arrive at completely different interpretations of the plan [of the Laon tower as drawn by Villard, fol. 9v], and neither is completely convincing.”


Csemegi József. A budavári fötemplom középkori építéstörténete [The Building History of the main Church of the Castle of Buda], Budapest, 1955, pp. 75-80.

Cited by Gerevich (1977.3, p. 179) as containing on pp. 73-80 “full … literature on the supposed works of this architect [i.e., Villard] in Hungary.”
Csemegi was an architect, architectural historian, and restorer of monuments in Hungary. In this article, he makes some unsubstantiated claims about Villard’s relationship with Hungary, despite his assertion (p. 78) that we don’t know what churches Villard built. Csemegi’s principal claim here is that Villard was in Hungary after the Tartar invasion of 1241/1242 and (p. 80) that Villard built the castle church at Buda during the reign of Bela IV (1235-1270). Part of the author’s justification is that he dates Villard’s drawing of a nave aisle window at Reims (fol. 10v) after 1241, but this is too late by at least a decade.

There is a discussion of a pentagram or star mason’s mark found widely in Eastern Europe that Csemegi attempts (pp. 75-78) to associate with Villard (fols. 9v, 18v, 19r) while admitting that this association is only probable, not proven.



BOOZ, PAULDer Baumeister der Gotik. Munich and Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag.

Commonly cited in Villard studies, this work is mainly concerned with late medieval designers, for example, Lorenz Lechler, Mathes Roriczer, Hanns Schmuttermayer, et alia, and has little to do with Villard. Booz terms the Villard portfolio a Musterbuch, and his principal observation (pp. 73-74) is that Villard’s renderings in perspective of parts of buildings (Laon tower, fol. 10r; exterior and interior of a Reims chapel, fols. 30v and 31r) are unusual, most medieval architectural drawings indicating details of construction and decoration only (cf. fol. 32r).

He insists that while Villard’s drawings stand at the beginning of the appearance of orthogonal architectural renderings, his drawings do not have consistent one-point (Renaissance) perspective and could not have been of any help in actual construction. Booz claims (p. 74) that Villard copied his architectural drawings from a modelbook: “Ferner ist zu beachten, welcher Quelle all diese Zeichnungen entnommen sind, nämlich einem Musterbuch.”


CLARK, [Sir] KENNETHThe Nude: A Study in Ideal Form. Bollingen Series, vol. 35, no. 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Contains (p. 11) one of the harshest condemnations in print of Villard’s ability to draw the nude figure, which is contrasted with his facility in rendering drapery: “This [the Villard portfolio] contains many beautiful drawings of draped figures, some of them showing a high degree of skill. But when Villard draws two nude figures [on fol. 22] in what he believes to be the antique style the result is painfully ugly. It was impossible for him to adapt the stylistic conventions of Gothic art to a subject [the male nude] that depended on an entirely different system of forms. There can be few more hopeless misunderstandings in art than his attempt to render that refined abstraction, the antique torso, in terms of Gothic loops and pothooks.” For a more positive view, see Vitry, 1929.4.

Reproduces fol. 22r.1956.3


VON SIMPSON, OTTOThe Gothic Cathedral: Origins of Gothic Architecture and the Medieval Concept of Order. Bollingen Series, vol. 48. New York: Pantheon Books.

Repeats much of the information, occasionally verbatim, from his earlier article (1952.3) but with additional comment.

Von Simpson stresses that Villard’s portfolio proves that geometry was the basis of all medieval design. He concentrates on Villard on pp. 198-200, claiming that Villard may have worked under the architect of Chartres in his youth and that his “model book expounds not only the geometric canons of Gothic architecture but also the Augustinian aesthetics of ‘musical’ proportions,” referring to Villard’s idealized design for a Cistercian church on fol. 14v.

Von Simpson refers to Focillon’s claim (1931.1) that there is at least a theoretical association in the geometry of Villard and Robert Grosseteste.



BRANNER, ROBERT. “A Note on Gothic Architects and Scholars,” Burlington Magazine, vol. 99, pp. 372, 375.

A reaction to Panofsky’s thesis (1951.1) about the relationship between Gothic architects and scholastics in which Branner attempts to determine the source of Master II’s designs on fols. 20r and 20v (termed pp. 39-40). He concludes that the source was an “archetype manuscript” written in Picardie ca. 1240-1250, after the portfolio left Villard’s possession but before Master II made his additions.

On the basis of relationships between various Master II drawings, Branner suggests the archetype was a Gothic manuscript composed of two vertical columns of figures and captions. He emphasizes that this manuscript was probably a treatise on practicae geometriae and not a learned, theoretical treatise produced at, or for use in, a university. He thus concludes that the relationship between architects and scholastics in the thirteenth century was one of parallelism rather than one of direct influence.

On p. 372 n. 4 Branner says that the letters found in the gutter of fol. 20 “seem to be neither the hand of Villard nor that of Master 2; the writer of this lost text should perhaps be called Master 1.”


BRANNER, ROBERT. “Three Problems from the Villard de Honnecourt Manuscript,” Art Bulletin, vol. 39, pp. 61-66.

Detailed explanation of the geometry, steps, and tools involved in executing three of Master II’s masonry diagrams on fols. 20r and 20v of the Villard portfolio. These concern especially difficult problems: how to cut a voussoir for an oblique opening in a straight wall; how to cut a voussoir for a window opening in a curved wall; and the en échelon method of cutting voussoirs using a mason’s square.

As an introduction to these analyses Branner notes (p. 61) that Master II’s “drawings are so cryptic and the texts beneath them so brief, that no adequate explanations have been found for them.”


HOLT, ELIZABETH GILMORE. “Villard de Honnecourt.” In A Documentary History of Art, vol. 1: The Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Garden City: Doubleday & Co., pp. 88-91.

Terms Villard a thirteenth-century master-mason from northeastern Picardie and says (p. 89) that his “book was begun as a sketch book, but after years of compilation developed into a manual giving for the first time detailed instructions for the execution of certain objects with accompanying explanatory drawings.”

Holt questions the attribution of Cambrai to Villard on the basis that “there are no correspondences between the building and his notebook to warrant this,” apparently unaware of fol. 14v. She then states (p. 88) that it “is more probable that he was active in the building of St. Quentin.”

Reproduces fols. lv, 6v, 7r, 15r, 18r, 18v, and 24r with translations of the inscriptions based on Willis and Hahnioser.


JANTZEN, HANS. “Das Bauhüttenbuch des Villard de Honnecourt.” In Kunst der Gotik, Klassische Kathedralen Frankreichs: Chartres, Reims, Amiens. Rowohlts Deutsche Enzyklopadie, vol. 48. Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, pp. 81-84. English trans. High Gothic. London: Pantheon Books, 1962, pp. 85-90.

Terms (p. 81) Villard a Picard Baüttenmeister of ca. 1235 and says (p. 82) there is a strong probability that he designed Saint-Quentin. Jantzen refers to Hahnloser (F.IV) and accepts the latter’s view that the portfolio is a Bauhüttenbuch later used by other architects.

Admitting that Villard may not have been the greatest architect of his age and that the portfolio may at first appear disorganized, Jantzen claims that it in fact contains “notes on every aspect of the building crafts, technical procedures, and artistic composition (English trans., p. 85).” Jantzen believes that Villard’s drawings of Reims were based on other drawings and attributes the discrepancies between Villard’s architectural drawings and actual models (e.g., Chartres rose, Laon tower, etc.) to the fact that Villard illustrated essentials only.

He claims that Villard’s drawings of animals and humans, whether or not they are based on actual models, are all determined by Gothic geometry.

Reproduces (redrawn after Hahnloser?) fols. 10r, 31v, and 32v. The frontal view of Villard’s lion (fol. 24v) appears on the cover of the German paperback edition.



BRANNER, ROBERT. “Drawings from a Thirteenth-Century Architect’s Shop: The Reims Palimpsest,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 15, pp. 9-21.

Detailed analysis of architectural drawings dated between 1230/1240 and 1263/1270 in the Reims Palimpsest (Reims, Archives de la Marne, MS G.611), with several references to Villard’s drawings. Branner claims (p. 19) that the Reims Palimpsest drawings “seem totally unrelated, in size and in detail, to the drawings in Villard’s manual,” but notes (p. 18) that the capitals in these drawings are similar to those drawn by Villard (for example, G.661 sheet B and Villard fol. 10r) and (p. 19) that Hahnloser had earlier (1933.1) noted a similarity between the choir stalls in each set of drawings

Branner gives (p. 19) the “ideal date” for Villard as 1230-1235.


DIRINGER, DAVIDThe Illuminated Book: Its History and Production. London: Faber & Faber.

In a general summary of the relationship between Gothic architecture and manuscript illumination in thirteenth-century France, Diringer claims (p. 277) that this relationship can be “best studied in an album of sketches, a sort of textbook on architecture, written c. 1235, by Villard de Honnecourt.”

Much of Diringer’s material is taken from Walters Art Gallery, 1949.5.


GIMPEL, JEANLes Batisseurs de cathédrales. Le Temps qui court, no. 11. Paris: Editions du Seuil. English trans. (Carl F. Barnes, Jr.) The Cathedral Builders. New York: Grove Press, 1961; Eng. Trans. (Teresa Waugh) The Cathedral Builders, New York: Grove Press, 1983.

Chapter VII (pp. 105-143) concerns Gothic architects, and Villard’s portfolio is taken as a “véritable encyclopédie” of the interests and concerns of a thirteenth-century architect. Gimpel uses Quicherat’s categories (1849.1) of materials, which he misattributes to Lassus, and claims (p. 106) that the material lost from the portfolio concerned carpentry.

Gimpel attributes Vaucelles and Kassa, and possibly Cambrai, to Villard but focuses on two aspects of the portfolio: Villard’s interest in mechanics and his knowledge of geometry, especially the Vitruvian principle of doubling a square. Gimpel emphasizes (p. 123) that Villard understood the principle of quadrature long before German designers of the late fifteenth century wrote about it.

Reproduces fols. 13r and 23r from the portfolio, both severely cropped, and a number of details. Each chapter is headed by a figure redrawn from the portfolio.


HUYGHE, RENÉ, ed. Larousse Encyclopaedia of Byzantine and Medieval Art. Art and Mankind, vol. 2. Paris: Librairie Larousse. **English ed. London: Paul Hamlyn, 1963.

Contains several brief references to Villard, stressing (p. 345) that he was a “famous Gothic master [architect]” who traveled widely and (p. 376) that his curious notebook “… [is] valuable for our knowledge of medieval drawing techniques.”

This is typical of the attempt to see Villard in two different ways: as (p. 238) an artist whose geometric designs reveal the abstract antinaturalism characteristic of medieval art and as (p. 318) one who “had an interest in nature and observation [of nature],” as his lion drawn al vif (fols. 24 and 24v) proves.

Reproduces details of fols. 14v, 19r, and 19v.


KIDSON, PETER, and PARISER, URSULASculpture at Chartres. London: Alec Tiranti. **Reissued. London: Academy Editions, 1974.

Kidson repeats the well-known Chartres models found in Villard’s drawings: the relief of the Fall of Pride (fol. 3v), the nave labyrinth (fol. 7v), and the west rose (fol. 15v), then (p. 53) adds two additional items: corbels from the south arm porch (now preserved in the south-west tower tribune) which served as models for Villard’s leaf-face (fol. 5v) and lion head (fol. 24v).

He also notes (p. 53 n. 26) that several of Villard’s motifs (gamblers on fol. 9 and wrestlers on fol. 14v) are found on the Maison canonicale of the cloister at Chartres (see Jusselin, 1911.1).

Kidson speculates (p. 53) that Villard himself may have been responsible for “the appearance of the current Reims style [of sculpture] at Chartres.”

Reproduces details of fols. 3v, 5v, and 24v after Lassus or Willis.



BOWIE, THEODORE ROBERT. See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.V, 1st ed.


BRANNER, ROBERT. Review of Bowie facsimile (F.V). In College Art Journal, vol. 18, no. 4 (Summer), p. 375.

General review of Bowie’s facsimile, noting that it is welcome because no other facsimile is in print. Criticizes Bowie ‘s use of Arabic letters inked in on the folios themselves.


Encyclopaedia of World Art, vol. 15. London: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., 1959-1962.

Contains scattered references to Villard and to his portfolio, but no specific entry devoted to either. Since the entries are by various authors, the portfolio is given several different designations: “livre de portraiture” (vol. 14, p. 305), “model book” (vol. 4, p. 475), “sketchbook” (vol. 4, p. 127), and “technical treatise” (vol. 4, p. 127).

The portfolio is also viewed in several different ways, for example, as “the first organic treatise on medieval architecture” (vol. 14, p. 385) and as “a model book in which, typical of the period, the artist reduces his subject to such a uniform style that it is often difficult to distinguish the technique in which they [sic] were originally executed.”

It is elsewhere claimed (vol. 4, p. 127) that the portfolio “includes ideas of taste and precise judgments of quality … [which] express the taste of the French monarchy and of the ecclesiastical and secular milieus which were bound to it.” Villard is termed a Picard architect, and the portfolio is dated (vol. 2, p. 188) precisely to 1235. Only Kassa (now Kosice, Czechoslovakia) is attributed (vol. 4, p. 220) to Villard.


GALL, ERNST. “Villard de Honnecourt.” In Les Architectes célèbres, vol. 2. Edited by Pierre Francastle. Paris: Lucien Mazenod, pp. 36-37.

Notes (pp. 36-37) that Villard was born ca. 1200 near Cambrai, and that he is celebrated by his incomplete “cahier de croquis,” a portfolio “unique en son genre,” which came into the Bibliothèque nationalede France in 1865 [SIC]. Gall claims that the buildings drawn by Villard are those which impressed him or those to whose construction he had personally contributed.

The only specific attribution to Villard seems to be Saint-Quentin; Gall says, “l’architecte [de Saint-Quentin] se servit de ces croquis [de Reims] comme modèle pour la construction des parties orientales de l’église abbatiale [SIC] de Saint-Quentin,” but it is unclear whether specific reference is to Villard or to a different architect who used Viliard’s drawings of Reims.

On p. 219 in an index Villard is mentioned in connection with his visit, dated ca. 1230-1235, to Hungary. It is claimed that he was then a mature man and an accomplished architect, but that there is no documentation for what he did or built in Hungary.


HÉLIOT, PIERRE. “Chronologie de la basilique de Saint- Quentin,” Bulletin monumental, vol. 117, pp. 7-50.

Suggests (p. 49) that Villard was the “auteur probable do l’abside et du choeur,” dated ca. 1205/1220, of Saint-Quentin and (p. 50) calls attention to the many structural difficulties of the choir: “On pays cher la témérité du maître du choeur: sans doute Villard de Honnecourt en personne.”



BARNES, CARL F., JR. Review of Bowie facsimile (F.V). In Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 19, p. 85.

General summary of Bowie’s facsimile, noting the difficulty of comparing it with the Villard portfolio itself and other facsimile editions because of Bowies unique arrangement of the folios.

Barnes argues that the Villard portfolio may have served different purposes at different times.


BARON, FRANÇOISE. “Les églises de Vaucelles,” Cîteaux, vol. 11, pp. 196-208.

Treats in detail the architectural history of the successive abbey churches at Vaucelles, with special attention to the role of Villard in the design of the Gothic church (Vaucelles III). Baron notes (p. 199) that the excavations in the 1860s (see Wilpert, 1865.4) confirm the basic accuracy of Villard’s plan (fol. 17r). On pp. 200-201 she adopts Enlart’s thesis (1895.1) that Vaucelles III dates 1216-1235 and claims that the plan of a traditional Cistercian church (fol. 14v) is a sketch of Vaucelles II. This choir was demolished by Villard, who was the architect of Vaucelles III (p. 200): “Est-ce à dire que Villard ait été vraiment l’architecte qui, après en avoir conçu le plan [fol. 17r], assuma la direction des travaux de choeur de l’église do Vaucelles? C’est infiniment probable.”

Baron offers the three “standard” presumptions for believing this: that Villard was from nearby Honnecourt; that he was trained in the abbey workshop; and that he probably directed work at Vaucelles before his trip to Hungary (after 1235).

Baron also calls attention (p. 208) to the resemblance between the Vaucelles plan and that (fol. 15r) designed by Villard and Pierre de Corbie.

Reproduces fol. 17r after Lassus.

[Note: Baron s article, “Histoire architecturale de l’abbaye de Vaucelles,” Cîteaux, vol. 9 (1958), pp. 276-283, contains no mention of Villard.


BOUVET, FRANCIS. See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.VI.


BRANNER, ROBERT. Review of Bowie facsimile (F.V). In Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 18, pp. 396-397.

Not so much a review of Bowie’s edition (praised [p. 397] for its ready availability) as a short essay on the importance of the Villard portfolio for understanding the working procedures of the medieval architect. Branner claims (p. 396) that “no collection [of contemporary medieval textual] statements, however comprehensive, can provide as clear a picture of his [= the medieval architect’s] activities and interests as the ‘sketchbook’ of Villard de Honnecourt.”

He claims here (but, see 1957.1) that the portfolio, which he dates ca. 1230-1240, “reveals many relationships between the architect of 1230 and contemporary academic discipline.” Branner comments on the fact that the portfolio proves that architects sometimes collaborated in designs but refers (p. 396) to the plan devised by Villard and Pierre de Corbie (fol. 15) as “somewhat monstrous.”


BRANNER, ROBERT. “Villard de Honnecourt, Archimedes, and Chartres,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 19, pp. 91-96.

A spirited defense of the accuracy of Master II’s schema on fol. 20v for designing keystones using the Archimedes spiral, associated with such a spiral design engraved on the underside of a capital found at Chartres. Branner insists that Master II was more accurate than he is given credit for having been (see Brutails 1902.1) and that modern scholars have misdefined, and therefore misunderstood, medieval three-point and five-point arches, which begin with one rather than with zero in counting divisions along the baseline.

In Branner’s reconstruction (p. 93 fig. 4), a three-point arch has five points and four divisions along the baseline.

Branner dates Master II’s drawings “about 1250,” but notes that under ultraviolet light the same spiral design is found to have existed earlier. This he attributes to Villard, not to his Master I (see1957.1), indicating that Villard was familiar with designs based on the Archimedes spiral.

Branner terms Villard “a thirteenth-century Picard architect” and dates his visit to Chartres “probably in 1225.”

Note: This article produced an exchange of charges and counter-charges between Branner and Leonard Cox over the correct interpretation of the use of the Archimedes spiral in general and at Chartres in particular [Cox’s critique of Branner’s article: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 20 (1961), pp. 143-145; Branner’s reply: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 20 (1961), pp. 145-146; Cox’s rebuttal: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 21 (1962), pp. 36-37; Branner’s reply: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 21 (1962), p. 193]. None of these concerns Villard per se and therefore are not given individual entries.


FRANKL, PAUL. “Villard de Honnecourt and Magister 3” and “Magister 2 and the Secret of the Lodges.” In The Gothic: Literary Sources and Interpretations through Eight Centuries. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 35-48 and 48-54.

Considers a number of problems connected with Villard and his portfolio and creates a biography of Villard: born ca. 1195; received the “first impulse toward his profession at Vaucelles;” probably next associated with Saint-Quentin as draftsman of its choir plan; visitor to Cambrai, but not its architect; ca. 1235-no later than 1242, in Hungary to build one or more major monuments, probably there through his association with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary; after 1242, back at Saint-Quentin; died ca. 1260.

Frankl believes (p. 40) that Villard was a painter and sculptor in addition to being an architect, proving that medieval craftsmen were not confined to the work of a single guild. He accepts Hahnloser’s view (F.IV) that Villard did not attempt to make literal copies of the architecture he saw but that he “modernized” these to suit his own taste and for his own purposes. Frankl claims that Villard had no sense of historical development in architecture, that is, he was not interested in what was most recent in his day but in what was most useful to him.

He next analyzes the portfolio, concluding that seventeen leaves are lost and incorrectly stating (p. 37) that the better-quality leaves were reserved for the finer drawings. Frankl’s view of the portfolio is that it began as a collection of sketches for Villard’s personal professional use. When he became a teacher and headed his own lodge, he added drawings to serve as models for his students and ultimately added still more in an attempt to turn it into “a textbook (Lehrbuch) encompassing everything that a Gothic architect needed to learn.” Frankl is so convinced of his “textbook” designation that he refers (p. 39) to “chapters” in the portfolio.

In his section on “Villard de Honnecourt and Magister 3,” Frankl analyzes the purpose of Villard’s geometric figures and his notation (fol. 18v) that these drawings serve “por legierment ovrer.” Incorrectly pointing out that Villard himself does not use geometric guidelines in designing or drawing his own figures, Frankl again (see 1945.1) interprets the purpose of these geometric schemata not as means of designing figures de novo, but as a means of transferring his small-scale figures to a larger scale in “… a process of transference from the small drawing to the block [of stone] or wall surface … [in which] Villard shows how one must invent that geometrical figure that approaches the contour or indicates important points of articulation [of the model]; but anything further is unnecessary….” (p. 52).

In his section on “Magister 2 and the Secret of the Lodges,” Frankl’s conclusion (p. 49) is that all the masonry drawings of Master II “can be thought of as problems of practical measurement.” He notes that Villard’s drawing of two wrestlers on fol. 19r proves that Villard knew the principle of quadrature, as did Master II, but that the usefulness of this means of dividing the sides of squares into halves, quarters, and eighths was not fully understood by either.

Frankl concludes (p. 54) that while there is no certain proof from the Gothic period, “…we are compelled to decide that the [quadrature] method of mensuration … must be declared to be the secret of the Gothic free-masons….” Frankl’s principal source is the Haholoser facsimile.

Reproduces details of fols. 18r, 18v, 19r, 19v, 20r, and 21r.


FRISCH, TERESA C. “The Twelve Choir Statues of the Cathedral of Reims: Their Stylistic and Chronological Relation to the Sculpture of the North Transept and of the West Façade,” Art Bulletin, vol. 42, pp. 1-24.

An attempt to date precisely Villard’s Visit to Reims on the basis of the author’s belief (p. 1) that Villard’s drawing of the exterior of one of the radiating chapels showing statues above the culées (fol. 31) provides a terminus ante quem for these statues and other stylistically related works on the north arm facade and the west facade.

On pp. 4-5 Frisch analyzes the various dates given for Villard’s visit to Reims and concludes that Villard was there after 1231, in 1232 “or only slightly thereafter.” She argues that the key to this date is in Villard’s comment (fol. 30v) about the chapels at Cambrai, as it reflects the uncertain future of construction at Cambrai after the death of its patroness, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in fall 1231. Accepting this date, she then argues (p. 24) that Villard’s drawing (fol. 10v) of the Reims aisle window proves that the nave there was under construction as early as 1232.

Frisch accepts without question the value of Villard’s drawings as documentation (“Villard’s testimony is of greatest consequence,” p. 2) and offers no comment on why Villard shows the chapel vaults (fol. 30v) in an incomplete state, nor does she consider the consequences of the fact that his inscription about Cambrai was added after the drawing was made. Frisch accepts (p. 5) Villard as chief architect of Saint-Quentin, citing Bénard (1867.1) as her source.

Reproduces fol. 31r.


GOMBRICH, E[RNST]. HArt and Illusion, a Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, Bollingen Series XXXV-5, Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1960.

Villard is considered in the context of whether his images are “universals” (man, dog, tree) or “particulars” (Louis VIII, my pet mastif Rex, oak) and the author concludes (p. 152) that Villard represented universals and was therefore in the Platonic tradition. As for his “curiously stiff” lion on fol. 24v, Gombrich admits that the rendering is heraldic but that (p. 79) Villard “can have meant [with his statement that the lion was contrefais al vif] only that he had drawn his schema in the presence of a real lion.”

Villard is called (p. 78) a “Gothic master builder” although no specific buildings are attributed to him.

Reproduces fols. 4r, 18v, 21v, and 24v from photographic negatives.



AUBERT, MARCEL. “La Construction au moyen âge,” Bulletin monumental, vol. 119, pp. 7-42, 81-120, 181-209, 297-323.

Notes (pp. 35-36) that Villard’s Reims drawings (fols. 10v, 30v, 31r, 31v, 32r, and 32v) made when Villard was passing through that city, show a project for the chevet of the cathedral which “devait être modifié dans la suite et ramené à des proportions moins ambitieuses.” Aubert claims (p. 36) that “maître” Villard’s portfolio, called an album, remained for a long time in the lodge, where it was added to by his successors.

Reproduces fols. 15r, 16v, and 31v.


BRANNER, ROBERTGothic Architecture. The Great Ages of World Architecture. New York: George Braziller.

Terms (p. 19) Villard “one of the most interesting architects of the early thirteenth century” and notes that his portfolio is “the only one of its kind prior to the fifteenth century to have survived.”

Reproduces fols. 10r, 22v, and 29r.


FITCHEN, JOHNThe Construction of Gothic Cathedrals: A Study of Medieval Vault Erection. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

While not concerned with Villard’s portfolio to the degree one might expect in a book with this title, Fitchen makes two important observations concerning the nature of Villard’s architectural drawings. The first (p. 6) is that even with his captions, it is by no means always clear just what Villard intended to stress or demonstrate in his drawings.

The second (p. 7) is that Villard followed the standard artistic conventions of his tine, intentionally distorting models, eliminating those things which did not suit his purposes (for example, the flying buttresses of the Reims nave, fol. 31v), and including things not present in reality if they did suit his purpose (for example, the large hand [of God?] in the Laon tower elevation, fol. 10r).

Fitchen terms Villard a well-trained and successful thirteenth-century French architect and states (p. 38) that “Hungary sent for and employed” Villard.


GIMPEL, JEAN. See 1958.3.



BOWIE, THEODORE ROBERT. See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.V, 2d ed.


FRANKL, PAULGothic Architecture. Pelican History of Art, no. Z19. Baltimore: Penguin Books.

Contains a number of passing references to Villard, three of which are of some interest. Frankl claims (p. 1) that Villard is the first writer to use the word ogive to refer to a rib vault. He also stresses the early occurrence of two other Gothic innovations in Villard’s portfolio: the pear-shaped arch profile (p. 151, referring to fol. 21r); and the “pendant” Crucifixion image, “which may well have been intended as a guide for both sculptors and painters” (p. 254, referring to fol. 2v and/or fol. 8r).

Frankl makes (p. 125) the astonishingly inaccurate claim that Villard’s unknown work in Hungary is the “only case of the [French] Gothic being exported through the activities of a Frenchman.”


JANTZEN, HANSDie Gotik des Abendlandes. DuMont Kunstgeschichte Deutung Dokumente. Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg.

Refers to the Hahnloser facsimile and basically follows Hahnloser’s thesis (F.IV) concerning Villard. Jantzen (p. 19) calls Villard an “Architek … um 1235” and refers to the portfolio as aBauhüttenbuch or Hüttenbuch. He briefly discusses (p. 20) Villard’s interest in Reims and dates his visit there “um 1230.”

Jantzen misquotes (p. 40) Villard as having said that the Laon tower was the most beautiful he had ever seen.

Reproduces fol. 31v after Lassus or Willis.


ROSS, D[AVID] J.A. “A Late Twelfth-Century Artist’s Pattern-Sheet,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 25, pp. 113-128.

While discussing a late twelfth-century pattern sheet, (Rome, Biblioteca Vaticana, Codex lat. 1976, fols. 1-2), Ross questions the purpose of the Villard portfolio: “in some respects [the Villard manuscript] is an artist’s pattern-book, though its miscellaneous contents cannot by any means all be made to fit that category [of manuscript].”

Ross calls the Villard portfolio both an album and a sketchbook and dates it to the first quarter of the thirteenth century, thus slightly later than the Vatican pattern sheet.


WHITE, LYNN JRMedieval Technology and Social Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Passing interest (p. 82) in Villard’s water-powered saw (fol. 22v) as the first example in Europe since Ausonius’s Mosella in the second half of the 4th century. White notes (p. 118) that Villard’s drawing “presents the first industrial power-machine to involve two motions: in addition to the conversion of the wheel’s rotary motion into the reciprocating motion of sawing, there is an automatic feed keeping the log pressed against the saw.”

The author’s other interest in Villard is in his perpetuum mobile (fol. 5r) and he quotes (p. 130) a description of such a machine by the Hindu astronomer and mathematician Bhaskara in his Siddhanta siromani, written ca. 1150 that could be the basis of Villard’s device: Make a wheel of light wood and in its circumference put hollow rods all having bores of the same diameter, and let them be placed at equal distances from each other; and let them all be placed at an angle somewhat verging from the perpendicular; then half fill these hollow rods with mercury: the wheel thus filled will, when placed on an axis supported by two posts, turn by itself.

In general White is not impressed by Villard’s mechanics: (p. 173) “[The] … devices sketched by Villard are unworkable as automatic mechanisms and may be adduced only to show his ambitions rather than his achievement in utilizing gravitational force.”

No illustrations.



BOBER, HARRYThe St. Blasien Psalter. New York: H.P. Kraus.

Attributes a psalter in the H.P. Kraus Collection in New York to the scriptorium of the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Blasien in the western half of the diocese of Constance, dating this manuscript ca. 1230/1235. Bober notes (pp. 37-38 and 59-60) that several miniatures in this psalter bear close resemblance to drawings found in the Villard portfolio: two gamblers (fol. 9r), a sleeping apostle (fol. 17r), and another sleeping apostle and horse and rider (fol. 23v).

He attributes the sleeping apostle motif to Sicilian Byzantine mosaics but notes that the dramatic foreshortening found in these particular interpretations is too similar to the psalter to be related only thematically. He suggests (p. 38) that Villard either used the Saint-Blasien Psalter as his source or that both Villard and the master of the psalter had as inspiration one of the “remarkable German model-books of Byzantine themes” found in Germany from the late twelfth century on.

Bober concludes (p. 38): “For Villard, the pattern of this line of evidence is of considerable significance because it shows that we must look to him not so much as the source of so many of these [Byzantine-inspired] motifs, but rather as an alert artist who picked up new things as he went along, serving in turn as their most famous distributor. Finally, this particular group of drawings constitutes the first tangible evidence of his artistic contacts on his travels through the upper Rhineland.”

Bober dates the Villard portfolio ca. 1235.


BRANNER, ROBERT. “Villard de Honnecourt, Reims, and the Origin of Gothic Architectural Drawing,” Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser. vol. 61, pp. 129-146.

Detailed analysis of Villard’s drawings of Reims (fols. 10v, 30v, 31r, 31v, 32r, and 32v) in which Branner concludes that Villard drew from the building itself and not from project drawings, in contrast to his Cambrai drawings which were from project drawings. He proposes (p. 138) that Villard’s Reims drawings “give us a rather precise idea of the lost ones of Cambrai” and that Villard first visited Cambrai “probably about 1220” then, later, “probably about 1240-1245,” visited Reims.

Branner compares Villard’s drawings with their actual subjects at Reims, noting the discrepancies in each instance. From this comparison he concludes (p. 137) that “… Villard drew the elevations inaccurately from the cathedral of Reims itself. It is strange, when one comes to think of it, that he has ever been considered an accurate draftsman.…”

Although Branner does not consider the question whether Villard was an architect, he notes (p. 137) that Villard’s inaccuracy in drawing the Reims flying buttresses produces a solution that “would be considered nothing short of irresponsible on the part of any master mason.”

Reproduces all of Villard’s Reims drawings, except the templates (fol. 32r), together with comparable modern drawings or photographs of the Reims details drawn by Villard.


REINHARDT, HANS. “Villard de Honnecourt.” In La Cathédrale de Reims. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, pp. 83-88.

Attempts to use the Villard drawings of Reims to answer four questions: when did Villard come to Reims?; did he draw from the actual construction or from the shop drawings of Jean d’Orbais?; if he drew the construction, what do his drawings tell about its state at the time of his visit?; and what was the purpose of his drawings?

Reinhardt concludes that Villard came to Reims from Laon ca. 1220; that his drawings are all from construction and not from shop drawings; that his drawings confirm the state of construction of at least parts of Reims ca. 1220; and that Villard made the drawings for application at Cambral, although Reinhardt does not actually say that Villard was the architect of that cathedral.

Reinhardt explains the inaccuracies in Villard’s drawings in two ways: since he drew from construction only, he had to guess at the intended appearance and details of projected work (and he frequently guessed wrongly); and because “il a introduit sur place les transformations qu’il envisageait à la cathédrale picarde [=Cambral].”

Reinhardt’s most novel suggestion (p. 87) is that there are no Cambrai drawings lost from the portfolio because, when Villard refers on fol. 14v to other drawings of Cambrai, he was alluding to the “modified” drawings of Reims. Reinhardt claims (p. 102) that Villard’s fol. 32v helps to reconstruct the original, intended choir buttresses of Reims.

Reproduces all the Villard Reims drawings (fols. 30v, 31r, 31v, 32r, 32v) and fols. 9v and 14v.


SCHELLER, ROBERT W.. “Villard de Honnecourt (ca. 1230-1240),” A Survey of Medieval Model Books, Haarlem: De Erven F. Bohn N. V., pp. 88-93.

Provides a brief oveview of the portfolio, noting (p. 88) that it “gives an insight into all the tasks a medieval architect was expected to cope with, as well as into his personal interests and problems” and proposes (p. 90) that there was “a utiliterian function of the collection [of drawings] over a long period.” The author discusses the technique and source of Villard’s Muldenfaltenstil. He also deals with the issue of what contrefais al vif (fols. 24r and 24v) meant and concludes that even if Villard did draw from life as we now understand the term, he mentally transformed his subject into a model.

Reproduces fols. 1v, 19r, 16v, and 27r after negatives in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.



MESSERER, WILHELM. “Vorzeichungen.” In Romanische Plastik in Frankreich. Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg, pp. 57-60.

Contrasts the use of constructive geometry in designing Romanesque and Gothic figures and concludes that, whereas in Romanesque figures the geometric bases are discernible, the organic nature of Gothic figures conceals their geometric bases. He cites Villard’s geometric drawings as exemplars of the Gothic practice but insists that Villard had no single system.

The basis of this short essay appears to be Focillon (1931.1).

Reproduces fol. 19r redrawn.


MITCHELL, SABRINAMedieval Manuscript Painting. Compass History of Art, no. 7. New York: Viking Press.

Makes (p. 21) the point that the Villard portfolio does not fall within the scope of manuscript painting, without saying why, but presumably because Villard’s drawings are not polychrome. Mitchell claims (p. 22) that the Villard portfolio gives a good example of what medieval painters’ model books must have looked like and that “it tells us a good deal about the spread of artistic ideas [in the thirteenth century].”


KATZENELLENBOGEN, ADOLFAllegories of the Virtues and Vices in Mediaevel Art from Early Christian Times to the Thirteenth Century, 2nd ed., New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1964; originally published in London: The Warburg Institute, 1939.

Has only the briefest mention of Villard (p. 72 n. 2), in which the author claims that Villard made his drawings of Humility and Pride (fol. 3v) from the Paris cycle of the Virtues and Vices rather than from the Chartres cycle. Cf. Bulteau, 1888.1; Kurth, 1942.1; Kidson and Pariser, 1958.5.



SCHULTZ, SIMONE. “Villard de Honnecourt et son ‘carnet,'” Oeil, vol. 123, pp. 20-29.

A state-of-the-question essay in which the theses of a number of authors, most notably Branner, are presented and analyzed. Even though no buildings can be attributed to Villard and his portfolio provides less information about his career than many authors have claimed, Schultz argues on the basis of the portfolio that Villard is the best-known thirteenth-century architect, better known even than Robert de Luzarches or Pierre de Montreuil.

She denies that the portfolio was a treatise or collection of practical instructions yet terms it (p. 20) “le document le plus explicite [qui nous reste] sur l’art et le métier d’un architecte du XIIIe siècle.”

Schultz concludes (p. 28) that while Villard was “ni grand architecte, ni grand sculpteur … c’est à lui que nous devons l’essentiel de nos connaissances sur le ‘condition intellectuelle’ d’un architecte du XIIIe siècle.”


SHELBY, L[ON]. R. “Medieval Masons’ Tools, II: Compass and Square,” Technology and Culture, vol. 6, pp. 236-248.

Discusses (p. 240) fol. 20r of the Villard portfolio, termed a sketchbook, as proof of the existence in the thirteenth century of the compass or dividers consisting of two legs ending in needlepoints controlled by a tension bar and (pp. 242-243) in terms of Villard’s technique of using a compass in certain of his drawings, for example, fol. 16r (reproduced from Bowie).

Referring to earlier analyses by Haholoser and Burges (1858.1), Shelby concludes that Villard used a compass to inscribe circles but that he did not use a bow-pencil or a bow-pen.



AUBERT, MARCELThe Art of the High Gothic Era. The Art of the World. New York: Greystone Press.

General treatment of Villard as representing the training required of a Gothic master mason, claiming (p. 24) that, on the basis of his portfolio, his “architecture is a pragmatic science, supported by the geometric and algebraic formulas his master had taught him.” On p. 154 Villard’s trip to Hungary is reported, his visit there associated with the Cistercians “with whom he was on friendly terms.” Aubert states that Villard “was undoubtedly connected with the building of Estergom and of Kassa.”

A number of Villard figures, redrawn after the originals, are used as margin illustrations unconnected with the text. Fols. 17r (sleeping apostle only), 28r (prophet only), 29r, 30v, and 32v are included, redrawn after the originals.


HARVEY, JOHN [HOOPER]. “The Mason’s Skill: The Development of Architecture.” In The Flowering of the Middle Ages. Edited by Joan Evans. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., pp. 81-132. Reprint. **The Master Builders: Architecture in the Middle Ages. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1971.

Similar in content to his earlier studies (1945.2 and 1950.2). Harvey here states the French view that the Villard portfolio is an album and Hahnloser’s view that it is a Bauhüttenbuch, and sides with Hahnloser, calling it (p. 38) “a sort of manuscript technical encyclopaedia of the building trades.”

He indirectly attributes Saint-Quentin to Villard, noting (p. 82) that “Villard de Honnecourt’s known journeys took him from Saint-Quentin in Picardy to Laon and Rheims, to Lausanne in Switzerland and across Austria to Hungary and back.”

Reproduces fol. 10r and fol. 32v, the latter after Lassus or Willis.


PEVSNER, NIKOLAUS; FLEMING, JOHN; and HONOUR, HUGHA Dictionary of Architecture. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. **Rev. ed. Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1976.

An example of how Villard has become a part of the most general literature on architecture. Villard’s biography is given (p. 536) as: active ca. 1225-1235; probably the architect of Cambrai; his book compiled for “learners in his lodge.”

Pevsner claims that “Villard’s book gives us the clearest insight we can obtain into the work of a distinguished master mason and the atmosphere of a [mason’s] lodge.”


STODDARD, WHITNEY SMonastery and Cathedral in France. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Terms (p. 135) Villard an architect born near Cambrai who “designed and supervised the construction of buildings in northern France.” Stoddard discusses Villard principally in connection with Reims, and dates (p. 209) his visit there to the early 1230s, when he was either an architect or still an apprentice.

The author suggests that the sketches are inaccurate at least in part because Villard eliminated or simplified to capture what interested him most. Stoddard is inconsistent in his view of the portfolio, which he variously terms an album and a “lodge book.” In one place (p. 135) he says it “probably served as a textbook for students in the lodge,” but elsewhere (p. 202) claims it probably was a visual diary of his [Villard’s] trips.”

Stoddard proposes (p. 261) that the two male figures on fol. 28r were modeled after the figures of the Virgin and St. Elizabeth on the Reims west facade (central portal, right embrasure).

Reproduces fols. 10r, 28r, 30v, 31v, and 32v.



DEUCHLER, FLORENSDer Ingeborgpsalter. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.

Contains several detailed comparisons of the miniatures in the Psalter of Queen Ingeborg of France (Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 1695), probably ca. 1200, and those in the Villard portfolio, both from the point of view of iconography and from that of style. Deuchler notes (p. 50) their similar treatments of the motif of the sleeping apostle (fols. 17r and 23v), derived from Byzantine models.

In several places (pp. 124 and 180) Deuchler claims that Villard was more advanced in his treatment of Muldenfaltenstil drapery than were the artists of the psalter, for example (p. 124), “erst bei Villard de Honnecourt und in der Synagoge in Strassburg begegnet man einem absoluten stilistischen Einklang gebrachten Formelschatz.”


ESCHAPASSE, MAURICEReims Cathedral. Paris: Caisse nationale des monuments historiques.

Contains a brief reference (p. 22) to Villard and the windows of Reims, suggesting that it possibly was due to Villard that the Reims windows enjoyed widespread influence: “The windows at Reims were very much admired as soon as they were finished; Villard de Honnecourt drew them in his album of sketches and knowledge of them rapidly spread throughout l3th-century Europe.”

Reproduces fol. 31r.


HÉLIOT, PIERRELa Basilique de Saint-Quentin et l’architecture du moyen âge. Paris: Editions A. et J. Picard et Cie.

Héliot makes a number of references (pp. 14, 41, 50, 61, 62, and 64) to Villard, and on p. 41 discusses briefly the tradition that Villard was the architect of Saint-Quentin. He comes down right on both sides of the question, stating that there is no proof whatsoever that Villard had anything to do with the church but that “il est seulement très vraisemblable que Vilard bâtit les étages supérleurs de notre abside, sinon davantage.”

Elsewhere (p. 64) he asks if Villard may not have been, in the decade 1220-1230, the second master at Saint-Quentin. Héliot also speculates (p. 50) that Villard may have worked on modifications at Vaucelles between 1216 and 1235.

Reproduces a drawing, apparently after Lassus, of the Villard plan (fol. 17r) of Vaucelles.


HENDERSON, GEORGEGothic. Style and Civilization. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Contains a number of references to Villard and his portfolio, the most important of which is his view of the purpose of the drawings. Henderson claims (p. 26) that the variety of subjects in the portfolio proves the “readiness [of the Gothic craftsman] to practice many arts concurrently” and that the portfolio was a “handbook, compiled for the instruction of apprentice cathedral builders.”

He notes (p. 35) the similarity of Villard’s drawing style to that found in the Psalter of Queen Ingeborg of France (Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 1695; see Deuchler, 1967.1) and he makes (pp. 86-87) an interesting contrast between Villard’s sleeping apostle (fol. 23v) and Giotto’s sleeping Joachim in Joachim’s Dream (Padua, Arena Chapel).

Reproduces fols. 10r, 23v, 28r, and 31v.


KIDSON, PETERThe Medieval World. New York and Toronto: McGraw-Hill.

Notes (p. 104) that pattern- and sketch-books were important in the Middle Ages for diffusion of stylistic ideas and terms Villard’s portfolio a sketch-book. On pp. 71 and 104 Kidson proposes that Villard’s sleeping apostle on fol. 17r may be derived from a mosaic of the Agony in the Garden of Gesthemene in the cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, possibly through the intermediary of a pattern-book.

Reproduces a detail of fol. 17r after Lassus or Willis.


KURMANN, PETER. “Saint-Etienne de Meaux d’après Villard de Honnecourt,” Bulletin de la Société littéraire et historique de la Brie, vol. 24, pp. 5-13.

Discusses the relationship between Villard’s plan of the Meaux choir (fol. 15r) and that of the cathedral itself, as well as the relationship of both to Villard’s plan of Vaucelles (fol. 17r) and to the plan designed by Villard and Pierre de Corbie (fol. 15r).

Kurmann notes (p. 8) that the “inexactitude flagrante de tous ces détails [piers, responds, buttresses] prouve de la façon la plus évidente que le plan [de Villard] n’est point un relevé exact, mais un simple croquis.” However, he insists that Villard’s drawing is important for showing the essentials of the Gothic choir plan of Meaux before this choir was substantially modified in the mid-thirteenth century.

Kurmann dates (p. 9) Villard’s plan of Meaux between 1220 and 1235 and admits that the cathedral plan was then out of fashion. He explains that Villard probably was attracted to it because its scheme of noncontiguous radiating chapels was that of his homeland (Vaucelles, Notre-Dame-la-Grande at Valenciennes). But Villard was sufficiently observant to understand that the polygonal rather than the circular plan of the chapels at Meaux was something new, and he uncharacteristically drew window spacings, a possible indication that he found these unusual or satisfactory or both.

Reproduces fol. 15 and a detail of fol. 17.


SALET, FRANCIS. “Chronologie de la cathédrale [de Reims],” Bulletin monumental, vol. 125, pp. 347-394.

Report on “le premier colloque international de la Société française d’archéologie (Reims, 1-2 juin 1965),” containing (pp. 348-362) a detailed analysis of the various interpretations of the labyrinth of Reims and the chronologies and roles of the architects it honored. Villard’s association with Reims is mentioned (p. 381) only briefly, proof that the ‘official’ stance in France is that Villard was in no way associated with construction of the cathedral.

Salet notes that he does not believe that the absence of vaults in Villard’s drawing of a radiating chapel (fol. 30v) proves that Villard was at Reims before the vaults were erected by ca. 1221, only that Villard eliminated the vaults “pour mieux faire voir ce qui l’intéressait, l’élévation et le dessin des fenêtres.”

The same interpretation presumably applies to Villard’s other drawings of Reims.


WIXOM, WILLIAM DTreasures from Medieval France. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art.

Catalog of an exhibition held in Cleveland in 1966-1967 in which Item IV-14 (p. 144) was a leaf from a missal made for Noyon use (now in Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University MS Typ 120, here dated ca. 1240/1250) showing the figures of Ecclesia and Synagoga. Wixom calls attention to the relationship of these two figures to figures drawn by Villard (“especially similar to Villard’s draped figures in their fluid linear style, tall proportions, rhythmic stance, and perky treatment of the features”), although he does not attribute the missal folio to Villard himself.

Wixom characterizes Villard’s drawings as showing “remarkable facility in a decorative and expressive use of line as well as a keen eye for the essentials of the particular model before him,” and he dates Villard’s drawings after ca. 1250.

See Vitzthum, 1914.2, and Walters Art Gallery, 1949.5.


WORRINGER, WILHELML’Art gothique. Paris: Gallimard.

This French edition of Worringer’s famous essay Formprobleme der Gotik is said (National Union Catalogue, 1968-1972, vol. 103, p. 32) to have “planches provenant de l’Album de Villard de Honnecourt.” Earlier German and English editions contain no reference to or illustration taken from the Villard portfolio.



BOWIE, THEODORE ROBERT. See “The Facsimile Editions,” (F.V), 3d ed.


BRANNER, ROBERT. Review of La Basilique de Saint-Quentin et l’architecture du moyen âge, by Pierre Héliot, Speculum, vol. 43, pp. 728-732.

Branner rather optimistically says (p. 732) he is “delighted to report that Héliot no longer agrees with” the attribution of Saint-Quentin to Villard, but it is by no means clear that Héliot (1967.3) rejects that attribution.


BUCHER, FRANÇOIS. “Design in Gothic Architecture: A Preliminary Assessment,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 27, pp. 39-71.

Discusses Villard (pp. 52-53) as a thirteenth-century architect who was less academic than his later Gothic counterpart, meaning that he apparently felt at ease in altering designs and models that he saw. Bucher emphasizes a different explanation of Villard’s deviations from his models, however, saying that he was unable to understand or to remember the basis for design of these models.

He states, concerning the Lausanne rose (fol. 16r), that Villard “completely missed the simple geometric development [i.e., quadrature] on which the original concept was based, and which he should have remembered even if he drew the rose from memory.

Bucher analyzes the Lausanne window and proposes the “presumed original concept,” which is closer in feeling to Villard’s drawing than Villard’s drawing is to the actual window. Bucher does not raise the possibility that Villard might have had as his model not the actual window but a project drawing with different details or an entirely different design.

Reproduces a detail of fol. 16.


CORNELL, HENRIKGotiken. Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag.

Villard is discussed briefly (pp. 105-177) in connection with Reims, principally in terms of his interest in antique-revival sculpture. The biography of Villard is short and traditional.

According to Thomas Thieme, this is the most extensive mention of Villard in all the art historical literature of Scandinavia. In Swedish.

Reproduces fols. 3v and 6r.


LORGUES, CHRISTINE. “Les proportions du corps humain d’après les traités du moyen âge et de la Renaissance,” Information d’histoire et de l’art, vol. 13, pp. 128-143.

Discusses (pp. 133-135) Villard’s use of geometric schemata in designing the human face and body and the relationship of his schemata to those of classical antiquity. Lorgues claims that Villard’s division of the face into three equal horizontal parts (top left of fol. 18v) stems from Vitruvius but that Villard’s employment of geometric figures is generally arbitrary and less a system than a reflection of his fascination with various geometric figures (circle, equilateral triangle, square) commonly employed in medieval design.

She summarizes (p. 135) her analysis as follows, “Villard abandonne non seulement le canon constitué, mais aussi les figures géométriques arbitrairement ‘canoniques,’ et il lui est arrive de géométriser après coup, au hasard d’inspiration, une figure dessinée d’abord sans l’aide d’un schema.”

Reproduces fols. 18v and 19v.



BUCHER, FRANÇOIS. “Cistercian Architectural Purism.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 3, pp. 89-105.

Claims (p. 91) that no medieval commentator “was more clearly aware of the principles, possibilities, and limitations of the [square] Cistercian [church] plan than the early thirteenth century architect Villard de Honnecourt.” Bucher compares Villard’s Cistercian plan (fol. 14v) with a plan of Morimond, drawn to imitate Villard’s style. It is not proposed that Villard designed Morimond.

Reproduces the Cistercian plan on fol. 14v, redrawn.


EVANS, M. WMedieval Drawings. London: Paul Hamlyn.

Terms (p. 14) the portfolio the “most comprehensive model-book” of the Middle Ages and proof that medieval artists worked in different media. The portfolio is dated ca. 1230-1240.

Evans does not speculate on Villard’s primary profession as a craftsman and does not even mention architecture. Emphasis is on the technique and purpose of the drawings in the portfolio. Evans criticizes Villard’s drawings as imprecise (when drawn from things he saw) and impractical, serving as guides rather than models because Villard stressed essentials only. It is claimed (p. 36) that Villard used geometry (fol. 19r) not to generate figures but to demonstrate how geometry underlies all art.

Reproduces fols. 6r, 6v, and 19r.


SHELBY, LON R. “Setting Out the Keystones of Pointed Arches: A Note on Medieval ‘Baugeometrie,'” Technology and Culture, vol. 10, pp. 537-548.

Offers a variant of Branner’s interpretation (1960.5) of how Master II used (fol. 20v) geometry to design keystones for arches. He states (p. 544) that while the Archimedian spiral works, it is unnecessarily complex, and in attempting to explain any medieval design schema, one should always seek the simplest possible solution.

Shelby terms (p. 537) Villard a thirteenth-century French master mason and dates Master II’s additions to the portfolio later in the thirteenth century without specifying when Villard’s activity ended.

Reproduces a detail of fol. 20v from Bowie.


SWAAN, WIMThe Gothic Cathedral. London: Elek Books Limited.

Provides, especially pp. 90-99, a summary of Villard’s career and analysis of the portfolio, termed an “album” and a “sketchbook.” Swaan sees Villard as a man with a “most lively curiosity and intellect” and as “an artist-craftsman of many parts.” He calls (p. 130) Villard a visiting master to Reims who conversed with Jean d’Orbais and on p. 96 the plan of the Cambrai chevet on fol. 14v is said to be “quite possibly Villard’s own design,” which would seem to indicate that Swaan attributes the design of Cambrai to Villard.

Scattered throughout are comments about specific drawings in the portfolio with good English translations of the original texts.

Reproduces fols. 5r, 9r, 10r, 15v, 22v, 24r, 29r, 31 r, and 31v after photographic negatives in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.



GIMPEL, JEAN. “Villard de Honnecourt.” In Le Siècle de Saint-Louis. Paris: Librairie Hachette, pp. 140-141.

An appendix to an essay by Robert Branner (“La Place du ‘style du cour’ de Saint Louis dans l’architecture du XIIIe siècle”) in a collection of essays published to commemorate the 700th Anniversary of the death of Louis IX the Saint (d. 25 August 1270).

Gimpel draws a parallel between thirteenth-century France and twentieth-century America, claiming that both are characterized by a belief in progress based on technology and that each era is known for the way it exported its technological expertise throughout the world.

Gimpel gives, as a thirteenth-century French example, Villard’s trip to Hungary. He claims that Villard would be right at home in New York with its glass-walled skyscrapers because these are the modern equivalent of the glass-walled cathedrals and churches of the thirteenth century.

Gimpel summarizes Villard’s fascination with a variety of subjects, from the serious to the trivial (his mechanical gadgets), and compares this multiplicity of interests to that of Leonardo da Vinci. He dates the Villard portfolio between ca. 1225 and ca. 1250 and here, as elsewhere (1976.2), fails to mention that part of its contents are not by Villard.


HOFSTÄTTER, HANS HLiving Architecture: Gothic. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.

Terms (p. 56) Villard a master builder whose drawings “reveal to us his intensive analysis of the great buildings of his time.”

Reproduces fol. 31r after Lassus.


MURBACH, ERNSTLa Rose de la cathédrale de Lausanne. Guides de monuments suisses. [Basel]: Société d’histoire de l’art en Suisse.

Attributes (p. 8) the Lausanne rose to Pierre d’Arras and dates it between 1217 and 1235. Murbach dates (pp. 3-4) Villard’s drawing (fol. 16r) of the rose ca. 1230, “La composition géométrique de cette dernière [loi d’unité], à Lausanne, suseita, vers 1230, le vif intérêt du cé1ébre architecte picard, Villard de Honnecourt.”


SAUERLÄNDER, WILLIBALDGotische Skulptur in Frankreich, 1140-1270. Munich: Hirmer Verlag. **English trans. Gothic Sculpture in France, 1140-1270. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1972

Mentions Villard only three times in passing but makes two very important observations. The first (p. 26) is that “The fragmentary manuscript of Villard de Honnecourt is too heterogeneous in content, and contains too much that is curious and discursive, to have served as a pattern book for working craftsmen. Some of its sheets, however, may resemble the sketches of figures and scenes which the sculptors [of thirteenth-century France] had to work from. The drawings have been done with a pen, in a way that leaves the calligraphy noticeably regular and unemphatic. Figures are often shown in unusual positions or from unusual aspects, but this again may be due to the author’s penchant for the curious and the unfamiliar.”

The second (p. 42) is that by the expression al vif (fols. 24r and 24v, referring to his lion), Villard meant simply that he was not using traditional sources such as a pattern book or a bestiary but that he was drawing a lion as it is,” whatever his model was.

It would appear that Sauerländer has a low opinion of Villard’s drawings, although he does not specifically state so. In discussing (p. 447) the coronation tympanum, ca. 1230, of Saint-Etienne at Beauvais, he notes that the style is weak and that the drapery renderings are late examples of Muldenfaltenstil which are a ‘mechanical repetition of antique’ fold motifs.” He compares this treatment to that of the metalwork of Hugo d’Oignies and the drawings of Villard.


SENÉ, A[LAIN]. “Un Instrument de precision au service des artistes au moyen âge: L’equerre” Cahiers de la civilisation médiévale, vol. 13, p. 349-358.

Very similar to his later article (1973.5), with emphasis on the different types of masons’ squares found in medieval representations. Sené stresses that the purpose of the type of square illustrated in the Villard portfolio (fols. 20r and 20v) is not to determine angles but to establish proportions based on the golden number. He claims (p. 356) that these squares have angles of 90°, 31°43’03”, and 58°16’57”, but it is very doubtful if the size of the drawings in the portfolio permits such detailed determinations, especially if he used the Lassus lithograph which he reproduces as his source.

Sené does not indicate that he is aware that the drawings on fol. 20r and 20v are not by Villard.


SHELBY, LON R. “The Education of the Medieval English Master Mason,” Mediaeval Studies, vol. 32, pp. 1-26.

Stresses (pp. 12-13) that the contents of Villard’s portfolio are quite different from the passing references to “the technical knowledge required by a practicing mason” found in medieval scholastic treatises and most emphatically denies Frankl’s contention (1960.6) that the Villard portfolio is a “textbook encompassing everything that a Gothic architect needed to learn.”

Shelby does not here (but, see Shelby, 1975.2) contest Hahnloser’s view that the portfolio was a Bauhüttenbuch, but he notes that it is a unique example of the period and that those who argue that it is “merely one of species that has otherwise disappeared have the burden of proof [that this is so] on their shoulders.”

Shelby terms Villard a French master mason of the thirteenth century.



FRISCH, TERESA C. “The Architect of the First Generations of the Gothic Period: Villard de Honnecourt.” In Gothic Art 1140-ca. 1450. Sources and Documents in the History of Art. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, pp. 43-51.

Confused and misleading summary of Villard’s career based mainly on Hahnloser with translations of the Villard inscriptions taken mainly from Frankl (1960.6). Frisch states (p. 46) that Villard presided over a masons’ lodge and claims (p. 44) that “the only known personal record of an architect’s interests and concerns in the thirteenth century is the lodge book of Villard de Honnecourt.”

Frisch basically associates Villard with the Cistercians but misidentifies (p. 44) the plan of Meaux (fol. 15) as that of a Cistercian church and incorrectly terms (p. 45) Saint-Quentin a Cistercian foundation.

Reproduces, as a frontispiece, fol. 10v from Hahnloser (misdated to 1953; apparently a mistyping of 1935).


GEREVICH, LÁSZLÓ. “A Gótikus klasszicimus és magyarország” [Gothic classicism and Hungary], Magyar tudományos académia, vol. 20, pp. 55-72.

General essay concerning Villard and Hungary, the details of which the author exposes elsewhere (1971.31974.11977.3). What is emphasized here is that Villard cannot be disassociated from the appearance of French classical (High) Gothic style in Hungary ca. 1220 and that he may also have introduced French technological innovations into Hungary. In Hungarian.

Reproduces various details from the Villard portfolio.


GEREVICH, LÁSZLÓ. “Villard de Honnecourt magyarországon” [Villard de Honnecourt in Hungary],” Müveszettörténeti értesitö, vol. 20, pp. 81-105.

The most extensive of Gerevich’s studies of Villard’s role in Hungary (see Gerevich, 1971.31974.11977.3). He reviews the earlier Hungarian literature on Villard and categorically denies that Villard was involved in any way with the various buildings, including Kassa, attributed to him by one or another of these authors.


HAHNLOSER, HANS ROBERT. “Nouvelles recherches sur le livre de Villard de Honnecourt. Bulletin de la Société nationale des antiquaires de France, pp. 95-96.

Unsigned summary of a presentation made to the society by Hahnloser in which he dated the last Villard drawings ca. 1235 and must have again made his plea that the French adopt his designation of the manuscript as a Bauhüttenbuch.

In answer to a question posed by Louis Grodecki, Hahnloser said that Villard’s last visit to Reims was ca. 1235/1236 but that he had been at Reims earlier, prior to his trip to Hungary.


KURMANN, PETER. “Le Croquis [du choeur de la cathédrale de Meaux] de Villard de Honnecourt.” In La Cathédrale Saint-Etienne de Meaux: Étude architecturale. Bibliothèque de la société française d’archéologie, no. 1. Geneva: Droz, pp. 31-33.

Detailed analysis of the information provided by and the degree of correctness in Villard’s plan (fol. 15r) of the choir of Meaux. Kurmann states that Villard’s plan is a very significant document for Meaux because the choir was modified in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries after Villard made his drawing.

Kurmann claims (p. 32) that “le plan de Villard et celui du chevet actuel [de Meaux] sont si proches l’un de l’autre que Villard parait bien avoir dressé effectivement le plan du choeur primitif.” He also notes (p. 33) that Villard uncharacteristically drew in the plan of the win-dows of the choir and chapel walls, perhaps because he found these to be novel, or satisfactory, or both. See Kurmann,1967.6.

Reproduces a detail of fol. 15r showing the Meaux plan.


MARCQ, MICHEL. “Cambrai.” In Dictionnaire des églises de France, Belgique, Luxembourg, Suisse. Paris: Editions Robert Laffont.

Contains (vol. 5, p. V.B. 28) one of the most outstanding misquotations of Villard on record: “Godefroy de Fontaines (1220-1237) fit édifier le choeur [de la cathédrale de Cambrai] selon les dessins de Villard de Honnecourt, originaire du Cambrésis. Ce dernier se dit lui-même l’auteur du choeur de ‘Notre-Dame-Sainte-Marie de Cambrai’; son album contient quelques [SIC] feuillets consacrés à cette con-struction qu’il aurait terminée vers 1251….”


SHELBY, LON R. “Medieval Masons’ Templates,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 30, pp. 140-154.

Shelby notes (p. 144) that “Several pages of Villard’s Sketchbook contain evidence of the important place of templates in the work of mediaeval masons” and discusses the templates on fol. 32r, stressing that Villard proves in his inscription that thirteenth-century masons had a tech-nical vocabulary for referring to moldings and templates for moldings.

Shelby notes (p. 145) that Villard used identifying marks on his template drawings, as well as on his drawings of the building of Reims itself, to indicate their specific features and the locations for which the templates were employed and that Villard’s templates record the “work already accomplished at Reims by another master mason.”

He briefly discusses Master II’s hints (fol. 20v) about how templates are designed, noting that for the spire two templates were involved, one large (for the actual spire) and one small (for individual stones to be employed in construction of the spire). Shelby concludes (pp. 145-146) by noting that Master II refers to templates (molles) only, but seems to have indicated marking gauges as well, although he apparently had no exact technical term for this device.

Shelby again (see 1970.7 and 1975.2) challenges the idea that the Villard portfolio was a textbook, stating that the drawings concerning stereometry raise more questions than they answer.

Reproduces details of fols. 20v, 21r, 3lv, and 32v after Willis (F.II).


WITTKOWER, RUDOLFArchitectural Principles in the Age of Humanism, rev. ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

In this edition only in Appendix II Wittkower gives (p. 159) what might be termed the “standard” humanistic view of Villard’s treatment of the human figure as distinct from that of the Renaissance: “The contrast between Villard de Honnecourt’s and Leonardo [da Vinci]’s proportioning of figures is a typical one: the mediaeval artist tends to project a pre-established geometrical norm into his imagery, while the Renaissance artist tends to extend a metrical norm from the natural phenomena that surround him.”



ACKLAND, JAMES HMedieval Structure: the Gothic Vault, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972, p. 78.

The one brief mention of Villard is dogmatic in the extreme: “About 1235 the notebook or textbook of Villard de Honnecourt from northern France indicates the range and complexity of the Gothic architect’s training. Basing his arguments on his experience in Switzerland, Hungary, and France, he drew plans and elevations of choirs and facades [ SIC ], window tracery, ingenious machines for construction, and figures as well as geometric constructions to demonstrate his competence as an architectural teacher.”


BUCHER, FRANÇOIS. “Medieval Architectural Design Methods, 800-1500,” Gesta, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 37-51.

Discusses briefly (p. 38) Villard’s use of square schematism in his plan for a Cistercian church (fol. 14v) and relates the plan to that of Morimond. Bucher claims that Villard’s caption with this plan is “condescending,” but it is unclear why he believes so.

He appears to suggest (p. 40) that Villard learned the design principle of quadrature during his career or in the process of making his drawings: Villard clearly misunderstood it when he drew the Lausanne rose (fol. 16v). According to Bucher, “Only someone still not totally imbued with the rotational precepts could have so thoroughly botched up an obvious design;” but he used it in a playful manner in his drawing of “rotating masons” (fol. 19v). Bucher discusses the Master II quadrature drawings (fol. 20r) without noting that these are not by Villard.

Reproduces fol. 19v and a detail from fol. 20r.


FRIEDLANDER, RENATE. “Eine Zeichnung des Villard de Honnecourt und ihr Vorbild,” Wallraf-Richartz Jahrbuch, vol. 34, pp. 349-352.

Discusses the unusual iconography of Villard’s drawing (fol. l3v) of the lion and the ox evangelist symbols in which the animals hold scrolls rather than codices. The author claims (p. 349) that the general source for this drawing is found in metalwork rather than stonework and (p. 350) that the specific source is the Evangelary of Saint-Médard de Soissons (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS Lat 8850), a Carolingian manuscript that shows (fol. 12r) the lion and the ox holding scrolls. Friedlander points out similarities of pose and details, for example, the tail of each animal wrapped around its advanced leg.

She also notes (p. 352 n. 15) that Villard must have been in Soissons because he is known to have worked in the region of Soissons and his Descent from the Cross on the same folio relates to an ivory known to have been in the treasury of the cathedral at Soissons.

Reproduces fol. 13v.


HAHNLOSER, HANS ROBERT. See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.IV, 2nd ed.


MARCONI, PAOLO. “Il problema della forma della città. nei teorici di architettura del Rinascimento,” Palladio, n.s. vol. 22, pp. 49-88.

In a long discussion of the importance of the pentagon in Renaissance fortification and town planning, Villard is cited (p. 69) as a medieval example of the survival of this magical and astrological geometric form from antiquity. Marconi claims that Villard employed it (fol. 18v) as a useful design mechanism.


SHELBY, LON R. “The Geometrical Knowledge of Mediaeval Master Masons,” Speculum, vol. 47, pp. 395-421.

Poses and answers two fundamental questions about geometry for masons as seen in the Villard portfolio: what kind of geometry did Villard and Master II employ (p. 398) and what was the source for this geometry (pp. 408-409)?

Shelby’s answer to the first question is that medieval masons in general, including Villard and Master II, knew and employed “constructive geometry,” not the “theoretical geometry” taught in the universities as part of the quadrivium. The latter required theorems and a knowledge of mathematics; the former was intended to produce practical results and required neither complex proofs nor any knowl-edge of mathematics.

His answer to the second question is that neither Villard nor Master II copied the examples of “constructive geometry” (fols. 20r, 20v, and 21r) from then extant treatises on geometry, although he acknowledges the existence of a Picard geometrical treatise, Practike de Geometrie, dated ca. 1275 (see Mortet, 1910.1). Moreover, he suggests (p. 407) that Villard and Master II show no indication of familiarity with the latest theories and instruments (astrolabe or surveyor’s quadrant).

Shelby’s summary of the portfolio and its stereometric geometry is that (p. 408), “…there is not a whit of evidence for the existence at this time of other shop manuals of the masons’ craft, let alone a continuing tradi-tion of such books of which Villard’s is the only survival … [therefore] let us assume that the Sketchbook is what it appears to be, namely, an exceptional literary record of some of the oral traditions of the masons’ craft.”

Reproduces details of fols. 20r and 20v after Hahnloser.


VON SIMPSON, OTTODas Mittelalter, vol. 2: Das Hoch Mittelalter. In Propyläen Kunstgeschichte, vol. 6. Berlin: Propyläen Verlag.

Contains a number of brief discussions concerning Villard and his portfolio (pp. 25-26, 43-44, 69, 81, 412), mainly a summary of Hahnloser’s (F.IV) and Frankl’s (1960.6) interpretations. Villard is called (p. 25) “a respected master architect … highly educated, with secure judgment,” and throughout the text the portfolio is called a Bauhüttenbuch or a Musterbuch. Von Simpson stresses that architects such as Villard were also responsible for sculpture and painting and that the basis of their work was geometry, termed the “secret of the masons.”

His most important observations appear (p. 412) in an explanation of the discrepancies between Villard’s drawing of the interior and exterior elevations of a Reims nave bay (fol. 31v) and the actual Reims nave. Von Simpson says that, leaving aside hastiness and carelessness on Villard’s part, the difference is either the result of Villard’s seeking to improve or modernize the design, altering its proportions to resemble those of Amiens, or of his copying at Reims a drawing which was later discarded or not followed. He also says one will never know which was the case since Villard’s visit to Reims cannot be dated (although he gives the date “um 1230”) and the chronology of construc-tion at Reims has not been precisely determined.

Reproduces the Cistercian church plan on fol. 14v and fol. 31v.


WIXOM, WILLIAM D. “Twelve Additions to the Medieval Treasury [of the Cleveland Museum of Art],” Cleveland Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 59, pp. 89-92.

Discusses a bronze figure of the mourning Virgin Mary from an early thirteenth-century Crucifixion group (Cleveland Museum of Art, 70.351) in the style of the Mosan goldsmith Master Gérard.

Wixom says (p. 89), “The Mary in Villard’s drawing [fol. 8r, dated between ca. 1220/1230 and ca. 1250] is so similar to the Cleveland figure in pose–in the disposition of the arms, hands, and drapery folds–that we might even wonder, despite the few discrepancies, whether the [Villard] drawing actually depicts our bronze and the ensemble from which it comes.

Reproduces fol. 8r after Hahnloser.



BRANNER, ROBERT. “Books: Gothic Architecture,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 32, pp. 327-333.

A “state of the question” essay on then-recent studies of various aspects of Gothic architecture in which Branner asked (p. 331) a question in passing that stimulated renewed interest in Villard and challenged the traditional view of his career: “Despite his [Villard’s] fame and undoubted interest, the question that has always bothered me has been: Was Villard in fact an architect or only a lodge clerk with a flair for drawing?”


DEUCHLER, FLORENSGothic Art. Universe History of Art. New York: Universe Books.

Terms (p. 30) Villard a master mason and dates his drawings ca. 1220/1230. Deuchler’s emphasis is on Villard’s drawings as models for stone sculpture. He notes (p. 55) this specifically for the two figures on fol. 28r and claims (p. 81) that “the technique of cutting stone is illustrated in the architect Villard de Honnecourt’s sketches.”

Deuchler’s best summary (p. 116) is as follows: “The fact that the Muldenfaltenstil appears in such a pronounced fashion in, of all places, the sketchbook of a master builder, suggests that the looped folds may in fact represent a series of ciphers for a sculptor’s guidance; they may have been intended to show him where the hollows of the folds were to go. The drawing thus served an instructive function–a graphic, two-dimensional device to help the stone mason achieve a three-dimensional result.”

Reproduces, redrawn (from Lassus?), fols. 14r, 28r, 31r, 31v, 32r, and 32v.


ROBB, DAVID MThe Art of the Illuminated Manuscript. South Brunswick and New York: A.S. Barnes & Co.

Compares (pp. 215-216) Villard’s drawing style with that found in contemporary north French Bible Moralisée manuscripts, claiming that both are related to monumental stone sculpture such as the Visitation group at Reims.

Robb describes Villard as “an itinerant architect of the early thirteenth century” and calls the portfolio a sketchhook.

Reproduces Villard’s Ecclesia (fol. 4v).


SAMARAN, CHARLES. “Le Carnet de croquis et de voyage d’un architecte française du XIIIe siècle (Villard de Honnecourt),” Journal des savants, pp. 241-256.

Excellent summary (pp. 241-246) of the early literature on Villard, followed by a review of the 1972 edition of Hahnloser (F.IV) with detailed analysis of the differences between it and the 1935 edition. Samaran accepts the view that Villard was an architect but denies that he was the “French Vitruvius” or that his portfolio was a systematic attempt to create a shop manual.

Samaran characterizes (p. 242) it as “une sorte de répertoire illustré des notions variées pouvant servir a une constructeur.”

Appendix A (pp. 250-254) identifies the Alessio Fellibien (i.e. Félibien) mentioned on fol. 1r of the portfolio as the Seigneur de Tuilerie near Chartres who translated a part of Vasari’s Lives into French after 1550 (Paris Bibliothèque nationale, nouv. acq. Fr. 1229), noting that the inscription mentioning him cannot be as early as the 1482 date it contains.

Appendix B (pp. 254-256) identifies Mongoguie (?) on fol. 23v as Montgaunier, a farm near Chartres. See also Samaran, 1946.2.


SENÉ, A[LAIN]. “Quelques Instruments des architectes et des tailleurs de pierre au moyen age: Hypothèses sur leur utilisation.” In La Construction au moyen age, Actes du congrès de la société des historiens médiévalistes de l’enseignement supérieur public, pp. 39-58.

Discusses the nature and use of the mason’s square in medieval construction, employing the illustration of this tool from fol. 20v (top row, second figure from the left) of the Villard portfolio. Sené refers consistently to Villard and nowhere indicates that he realizes that the drawing in question is by Master II and not by Villard. He also discusses the problem of the quadrature and conludes that Lassus explained incorrectly Villard’s (SIC = Master II’s) understanding of this principle of design.

He refers to Branner (1957.11957.2) and Shelby (1965.2, 1970.7, 1971.7) for more accurate assessment of this question.

Reproduces fol. 20v after Lassus.


SWARZENSKI, HANNS. “Comments on the Figural Illustrations [in Lambert of Saint-Omer’s Liber Floridus],” Liber Floridus Colloquium, Papers Read at the International Meeting held in the University Library Ghent on 3-5 September 1967, ed. Albert Derolez, Ghent, 1973, pp. 21-30.

States (pp. 22-23) “The Lion and the Porcupine in Villard de Honecourt’s Sketchbook seem also to be based on the corresponding picture in a copy of the Liber Floridus [Ghent, Universiteitsbibliotheek, MS 92, fol. 56v]. That a picture with such strong appeal could be changed, seemingly so radically, from its original side view to a foreshortened frontal view is not without analogy and precedent in the first half of the13th century, a period in which the problems of three-dimensional interpretations of a given subject or a well-established composition were eagerly explored and exploited. The fact that Villard labeled in his sketchbook the lion ‘com on le voit par devant’ and ‘contrefais al vif’—and this was very well possible for lions were then kept and seen in menageries—only reveals how strongly Lambert [of Saint-Omer]’s image of the Lion and Pig must have persisted into the 13th century.”

Reproduces (as fig. 27) fol. 24v after the negative in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, compared with Lambert’s lion and porcupine (fig. 28).



GEREVICH, LÁSZLÓ. “Tendenze artistiche nell’Ungheria angioina,” Accademia nazionale dei Lincei, vol. 210, 121-[?].

A paper delivered at a colloquium held in Rome, 23-24 March 1972, on the subject “Gli Angioini di Napoli e di Ungheria.” Gerevich cites (p. 123) Villard de Honnecourt as the probable sculptor of the destroyed tomb of Gertrude de Meran (d. 1213) found during the excavations at Pilis. See Gerevich, 1971.3 and 1977.3.


RAGUIN, VIRGINIA CHIEFFO. “The Genesis Workshop of the Cathedral of Auxerre and its Parisian Inspiration,” Gesta , vol. 13/1, pp. 27-38.

Makes (p. 30) a convincing comparison between the drapery of a Majestas figure from a window formerly in the church at Gercy (now in Paris, Musée de Cluny) and that found in Villard’s figures, noting that they both depend on Parisian Muldenfaltenstil origins.

Reproduces fol. 3v, detail of Humility.


AYERS, LARRY M. “Problems of Sources for the Iconography of the Lyre Drawings,” Speculum, vol. 49, pp. 61-68.

In discussing the Lyre drawings (bound in MS. 4 in Evreux, Bibliothèque municipale) as (p. 68) as a “specialized type of ‘iconographical guide,'” the author characterizes the Villard drawings as a “randomly composed sketchbook,” and a more personal creation than the Lyre set. Ayers notes (p. 61) “The collection of thirteenth-century drawings executed by Villard de Honnecourt … reminds us that there was no lack of migrant artists during medieval times.”

No illustrations.



GRANDJEAN, MARCEL, and CASSINA, GAETANThe Cathedral of Lausanne. Guides to Swiss Monuments. Basel: Société d’histoire de l’art en Suisse.

Dates (p. 27) the Lausanne rose between 1217 and 1235, attributing the design to Pierre d’Arras. The authors claim (p. 26) that Villard’s drawing of the rose (fol. 16r), made about 1235, proves that the window has been noteworthy from the time of its creation.


SHELBY, LON R. Review of Hahnloser facsimile F.IV. In Speculum, vol. 50, pp. 496-500.

Stresses the significance of the first edition of Hahnloser in Villard studies since 1935, then lists in detail the differences between the first and second editions.

Shelby provides an analysis of the contents of the Villard portfolio that leads him to reject Hahnloser’s contention that it was a Bauhüttenbuch or that it was based on academic treatises (see Shelby,1972.6).

He proposes the counter hypothesis that Villard was a master craftsman, but not an architect, and that the portfolio was originally a “private sketchbook” which, for unspecified reasons, Villard decided to make public to an unspecified audience.

Shelby also rejects the claim of Hahnloser that Master II and Master III were pupils of Villard.


TOMA, KATHY. “La Tête de feuilles gothique,” L’Information d’histoire de l’art, vol. 20, pp.180-191.

Discussion of the origin and meaning of the leaf-face motif in medieval art, concluding that the motif can be found in Severan Roman monuments but that its association with Silvanus, deity of forests, is yet older. Toma claims the motif was used in medieval Europe in two not always distinct contexts: funerary and geometric.

It is in this second context that Villard appears, with the author suggesting (p. 180) that the Gothic period was the age d’or for the motif and that the Villard portfolio returned it to a place of honor. Toma suggests (p. 181) Gallo-Roman provincial works as the ancestors of Villard’s leaf-face drawings (fols. 5v and 22r) but offers no specific sources or models.

Toma refers to her thesis on this subject (Université de Paris, n.d.), which may discuss Villard’s connection with the leaf-face motif in greater detail.

Reproduces the leaf-face details of fols. 5v and 22r after Hahnloser.


WIRTH, KARL-AUGUST. Review of Hahnloser facsimile F.IV. In Pantheon, vol. 33, pp. 79-80.

Praises the publication of the revised edition of Hahnloser because the first edition had become unavailable and because it was Hahnloser who had determined the way Villard is currently studied. Wirth reviews only the additions to the first edition and faults these on several counts: that Hahnloser unduly expanded and concentrated on some points which interested him personally while ignoring others of more general interest; that he missed a number of pertinent studies on Villard which had appeared after 1935 while uncritically accepting others of questionable merit.

Wirth also states that certain of Hahnloser’s proposed models for Villard’s drawings are unacceptable because they are later in date than the portfolio and represent iconographic types unknown in the thirteenth century.


ZARNECKI, GEORGEArt of the Medieval World, Library of Art History. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall; New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Discusses (pp. 379-380) Villard as a Picard architect but emphasizes that the portfolio, dated ca. 1220-1235, proves that craftsmen of the period were “masters of many trades.” Villard is said to have done his figures, meaning the drapery of his figures, in a style which was “a very close imitation of the Muldenstil of Nicholas of Verdun and this he must have absorbed in his youth, presumably by studying original works of the Mosan artist.”

Zarnecki assigns no specific buildings to Villard but claims that he “clearly headed” a mason’s lodge for which he compiled the portfolio, termed a sketchbook.

Reproduces fols. 10v and 16v.



BUCHER, FRANÇOIS. “Micro-Architecture as the ‘Idea’ of Gothic Theory and Style,” Gesta, vol. 15, pp. 71-89.

Claims (pp. 72-73) that Villard’s interest in nonstructural elements (choir stalls, clock towers, lecterns, etc.) used in conjunction with architecture proves the desire of Gothic architects “to control all phases of design,” a practice the author says is represented in our own time by such architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and others.

Bucher also notes (p. 85 n. 12) that Villard’s fascination with mechanical gadgets of various types is not atypical of early thirteenth-century interests, citing as an example the gift of a hydraulic automaton to Frederick II by Saladin in 1232.


GIMPEL, JEAN. “Villard de Honnecourt: Architect and Engineer.” In The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages, New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, pp. 114-146.

General summary of the traditional treatment of Villard as an architect associated with Cambrai and possibly with Saint-Quentin, seen against the prevalent background for training master masons in the thirteenth century.

Gimpel sees (p. 142) Villard’s portfolio, called a sketchbook, as “astonishingly similar to Leonardo’s famous notebooks,” stressing that both men were practitioners of the mechanical arts, not humanists, in terms of classical education. Gimpel claims that Villard knew Vitruvius’s De Architectura and was attempting to create a parallel to it.

This study by Gimpel (see also 1958.3 and 1970.1) contains some of the better English translations of Villard’s inscriptions.

Reproduces various details of Villard’s drawings and fols. 5r, 10r, 18v, and 20r.


GRODECKI, LOUISGothic Architecture. History of World Architecture, no. 6. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Given the use of Villard’s fol. 30v on the dust jacket and the beautifully reproduced illustrations of fols. 30v, 31r, and 32r in the text, Grodecki has very little to say about Villard. He claims (p. 14) that Hahnloser’s study of Villard was an attempt to prove that “the quest for geometric proportions was indeed a constant preoccupation in the Middle Ages.” He notes (p. 58) that Villard drew the Laon towers [ SIC] in 1230 and “judged them to be without peer.”

Grodecki dates (p. 34) the Villard portfolio to the second quarter of the thirteenth century and terms it a book or a notebook containing models and instructions.


LASSUS, JEAN-BATISTE-ANTOINE. See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.I, 2nd ed.


PIERCE, JAMES SMITH. “The Sketchbook of Villard de Honnecourt,” New Lugano Review, vol. 8-9, pp. 28-36.

An attempt to define the aesthetic basis of Villard’s drawings, regardless of their intended purpose. Pierce claims (p. 28) that the common characteristic of all of Villard’s drawings is their “quality of linear movement.” Noting that it has long been realized that dynamic linearism is one of the principles of Gothic architecture, he employs several expressions from Jacob Burckhardt as key concepts: “sheer rhythm of movement,” “sprouting forces . . . individually expressed.”

Pierce then analyzes a number of Villard’s drawings, demonstrating that he was interested not merely in movement, for example, the “ceaseless rotation” of the four masons on fol. 19v, but (p. 32) in visual ambiguity and the creation of restless visual tension, as in the four masons based on a swastika design who between them have four, not eight, legs or the three fish bodies (fol. 19v) which share a common head.

Pierce claims (pp. 29-30) that Villard’s geometry (fols. 18r, 18v, 19r, and 19v) may have been used to establish proportions or “as convenient devices for enlarging preparatory studies,” but that this geometry was also employed to “animate the figures by establishing [oblique]


THIEBAUT, JACQUES. “L’Iconographie de la cathédrale disparue de Cambrai,” Revue du Nord, vol. 58, pp. 407-433.

Considers (p. 411) the traditional attribution of Cambrai to Villard and categorically denies the possibility, noting that the details, especially the piers, in his plan (fol. 14v) are incorrect. Thiebaut dates Villard’s visit to Cambrai ca. 1230 and states that his plan is important for suggesting the state of construction of the Cambrai choir at that time.



BRANNER, ROBERTManuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of Saint Louis. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Passing mention (p. 22) of Villard as a north French artist working in the Muldenfaltenstil, dating his portfolio, termed a notebook, ca. 1240.


BUCHER, FRANÇOIS. “A Rediscovered Tracing by Villard de Honnecourt, Art Bulletin, vol. 59, pp. 315-319.

Announces the rediscovery of a tracing (épure), in the first chapel on the north side of the ambulatory of Saint-Quentin, of a rose window similar in style to but differing in detail from the Chartres west rose on fol. 15v of the Villard portfolio. See Bénard, 1864.1. This design, dated 1220/1235 and attributed to Villard, provides the basis for Bucher’s conclusion (p. 319) that “I must stipulate Villard’s presence in Saint-Quentin during the vital planning phase of the choir in the 1220s.”

Bucher also notes that the tile patterns in the pavement of the chapel of Saint Martin in the axial western tower of Saint-Quentin are related to the pattern of a Hungarian paving tile drawn by Villard (fol. 15v), hence Villard’s trip to Hungary is dated earlier here than it is in most scholarship.


GEREVICH, LÁSZLÓ. “Pilis Abbey: A Cultural Center,” Acta Archaeologica Academiae Hungaricae, vol. 29, pp. 155-198.

Restates Gerevich’s earlier (1971.31974.1) views on Villard’s association with Pilis, especially as master sculptor of the tomb of Gertrude de Meran (d. 1213). Gerevich here suggests (p. 185) that Villard had previously been one of the sculptors of the south arm reliefs and statues of Chartres. Emphasizes Villard’s drawings (fol. 15v) of a Hungarian church pavement the model for which was probably in the south arm at Pilis: one of Villard’s five patterns (bottom left) is identical to an unusual pattern Gerevich excavated at Pius.

Reproduces a number of details from the Villard portfolio juxtaposed with likely sources and contains an extensive bibliography concerning Villard’s visit to Hungary.


KIMPEL, DIETER. “Le Développement de la taille en série dans l’architecture médiévale et son rôle dans l’histoire economique,” Bulletin monumental, vol. 135, pp. 195-222.

Focuses on the use of templates for prefabrication of stone decorative and structural elements in 13th-century French architecture, especially at Reims and at Amiens. Villard’s fol. 32 is cited (p. 199) as proof that templates were used at Reims and (p. 201) as proof that the decorative moldings of the windows were additions to the original construction.

Kimpel insists (p. 202) that Villard “s’est maintes fois trompé en ce qui concerne les détails de la cathédrale de Reims,” and he specifies these errors on p. 219 n. 27.

He also notes that Villard’s pier plan on fol. 15v is most improbable as an example of actual construction. Villard is cited on p. 214 as proving, in his fols. 22v and 23r, the technological revolution which accompanied prefabrication of architectural elements. Kimpel nowhere actually refers to Villard as an architect or mason.

Reproduces fols. 22v, 23, 31v, and 32r after Hahnloser.


KOSTOF, SPIRO, ed. “The Architect in the Middle Ages, East and West.” In The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 59-95.

Passing mention (pp. 89-90) only of Villard, terming him “a master mason of Picardy,” and claiming that his portfolio is a pattern book based on lodge tradition and was not intended to circulate outside the trade, that is, that Villard participated in the “secret of the medieval masons.”

Reproduces fols. 14v and 23r.


ROSENAU, HELEN. “Notes on some Qualities of Architectural Seals during the Middle Ages,” Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser. vol. 90, pp. 77-84.

Terms (p. 77) Villard a thirteenth-century “architect, designer, and theorist” and claims that “His influence is to be recognized in the head sprouting with leaves on the plinth of the famous statue of a rider in Bamberg Cathedral.” Rosenau appears to credit (p. 78) Villard with the design of a canopy now over a statue of the Virgin at Bamberg when she says that it “resembles closely, not only the towers of Laon Cathedral, but also a fairly accurate drawing [fol. 10r] of one of those towers in the design book by Villard de Honnecourt.”

Reproduces fol. 10r.


SHELBY, LON RGothic Design Techniques: The Fifteenth-Century Design Booklets of Mathes Roriczer and Hanns Schmuttermayer. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press.

Terms (p. 4) Villard’s portfolio the “lone literary example of a thirteenth-century master mason’s ideas and sketches [which] has survived.” But on p. 153 n. 5 he restates Branner’s question (1973.1) about whether Villard may have been only a lodge clerk with a flair for drawing, noting that if someone could prove that view, most of the traditional scholarship concerning Villard would be “upset.”



BARNES, CARL F., JR. “Letter to the Editor,” Art Bulletin, vol. 60, pp. 393-394.

Refutes Bucher’s claim (1977.2) that the drawing at Saint Quentin is by Villard, suggesting it may be a fake by Bénard (1864.1) made in order to associate Villard with that church. Barnes questions whether the drawing was ever lost and raises the point that it requires a “stupefying series of interrelated coincidences” to make Bucher’s thesis operable.


BINDING, GUNTHER, and NUSSBAUM, NORBERTDer mittelalterliche Baubetrieb nordlich der Alpen in zeichenossischen Darstellung. Darmstadt: Wissenshaftliche Buchgesellschaft, pp. 1-21.

A general overview of the state-of-the-question of Villard and his portfolio, based on and adopting the theses of Hahnloser and Frankl (1960.6). The authors date (p. 3) Villard’s activities, including his trip to Hungary, mainly in the 1230s and state (p. 5) that it is possible he worked on the tomb of Gertrude de Meran at Pilis (see Gerevich, 1974.1, 1977.3).

The thesis of this study (p. 2) is that the Villard portfolio was an Arbeitsbuch or Lehrbuch, an architectural summa scientiae et artis intended for use in a building lodge (Bauhütte), and that it is typical of its type (not one of which survives; see Shelby, 1977.7).

The most useful and original part of this study is an analysis (pp. 12-17) of Villard’s system of perspective rendering in certain of his architectural drawings, for example, the Laon tower (fol. 10r) and the Reims chapels (fols. 30v and 31r).

Reproduces a number of details and fol. 10r after Lassus or Willis.


BUCHER, FRANÇOIS. Response to “Letter to the Editor [Barnes, 1978.1],” Art Bulletin, vol. 60, p. 394.

Defends his claim (1977.2) that the drawing at Saint-Quentin is an original by Villard and argues that Barnes’ opinion (1978.1) is invalid because the latter described a different drawing in a different chapel.

Bucher claims his research indicates that Villard died shortly after 1233 and that the drawing dates immediately after Villard’s return from Hungary, at the latest between 1228 and 1233. Bucher stands by his claim that Villard was an architect but denies attributing to him the choir of Saint-Quentin, having proposed only that he was there during construction and offered advice, specifically, that he “contributed to its design; neither more nor less.” However, see Bucher, F.VII.


LAGERLÖF, ERLAND. “En Uppätningsritning från Medeltiden.” In Gotsland Fornsal (Sartryck ur Gotländskt Arkiv 1978), pp. 33-42.

Survey of medieval architectural engravings emphasizing an engraving of ca. 1300 for a retable from the crypt at Lojsta, Gotland. Passing reference is made (p. 41 n. 1) to Villard as “arkitekt” in quotation marks, suggesting that Lagerlöf questions this identification.

In Swedish with a short summary in German (p. 42).


MURRAY, STEPHEN. “The Gothic Facade Drawings in the ‘Reims Palimpsest,'” Gesta, vol. 17, pp. 51-55.

Discusses the differences in technique and execution of the two facade drawings in the Reims Palimpsest (Reims, Archives de la Marne, MS G.661). He concludes that one (“A”) is an original, experimental design whereas the other (“B”) is a copy of an older design, where there are few corrections and many pinprick guides which enabled the copyist to capture the details of the original.

Murray notes (p. 54) that Villard’s drawings provide a reasonably contemporary parallel to these Reims drawings and that Villard’s technique of lightly incised preliminary leadpoint lines, frequent corrections, and infrequent use of pinprick guides agrees with the technique of Reims “A.” The conclusion from this, not actually stated by Murray, would seem to be that Villard’s architectural drawings were not literal copies or tracings.


SCHÖLLER, WOLFGANG. “Eine Bermerkung zur Wiedergabe der Abteikirche von Vaucelles durch Villard de Honnecourt,” Zeitschrift fur Kunstgeschichte, vol. 41, pp. 317-322.

Discusses (pp. 317-319) the history of construction of the Gothic church at Vaucelles, dating the crossing and transept 1192-1216 and the choir 1216-1235. Schöller claims (pp. 320-321) that while the Villard and Pierre de Corbie plan (fol. 15r) related to Vaucelles reveals numerous corrections under ultraviolet light, Villard’s plan of the Vaucelles choir (fol. 17r) shows no corrections, “wie mach einem Vorbild kopiert.”

He also notes that Villard drew the Vaucelles crossing and north arm of the transept, which he later erased. Villard attempted two different vaulting schemes, neither of which is satisfactory and neither of which probably reflects this part of the actual building.

Schöller speculates (p. 322) that the difference in accuracy between this area and the choir is explained by the fact that Villard copied a plan of the choir but experimented with this area. He also proposes, less convincingly, that Villard later erased this part of his drawing not because of his errors but because, having worked out his experiment on parchment, he no longer required the drawing.

Reproduces fols. 15r and 17r redrawn to show the original lines subsequently rejected or erased.


BASFORD, KATHLEENThe Green Man, Cambridge:D. S. Brewer, 1978; 2003 paperback reprint.

Analyses the tradition of foliate faces or heads in western European art from the Roman era. The four examples found in the Villard portfolio (fols. 5v and 22r) are classified (p. 15) as Têtes de Feuilles in which a human face undergoes metamorphosis into leaves or vice versa.

Reproduces the foliate faces from fols. 5v and 22r redrawn (after Lassus?).



BUCHER, FRANÇOIS. See “The Facsimile Editions,” F.VII.


BUCHTHAL, HUGO. The “Musterbuch” of Wolfenbüttel and Its Position in the Art of the Thirteenth Century. Byzantina Vindobonensia, no. 12. Vienna: Verlag der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

This item is included for what it does not say. In his extensive analysis of the Wolfenbüttel Musterbuch (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August-Bibliothek, Codex Guelf 62, 2 Aug.), which Buchthal attributes (p. 68) to a Venetian artist copying from an earlier Venetian Musterbuch, the Villard portfolio is thoroughly ignored. Only on p. 15 does Buchthal even mention it, summarily dismissing it as “a collection of drawings.”


CALKINS, ROBERT CMonuments of Medieval Art. New York: E.P. Dutton.

General commentary on Villard, called a French draftsman, active ca. 1225-1250, who produced a notebook. Calkins appears (p. 268) to question the habit of terming Villard an architect: “whether Villard was an architect as many scholars believe, or merely an artist, he is representative of a large number of medieval artisans who emerged from relative anonymity with the building of the High Gothic cathedrals.”

Emphasis is on Villard as an example of the medieval artist who insisted on an “assertion of [his] individuality” rather than on an analysis of his drawings.

Reproduces fol. 6v.


OST, HANS. “Eine Architekturzeichnung des 13. Jahrhunderts mit einem Exkurs zur Baugeschichte der Marienkirche in Reutlingen,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, vol. 42, pp.15-30.

Announces the ‘rediscovery’ of an architectural engraving on the wall of the Sudsakristei of the former Cistercian church in Reutlingen, first published in 1903 as the plan of a Gothic church with a polygonal choir.

Ost interprets (pp. 16-17) this engraving as the plan for a flat terminal Cistercian church and dates (p. 19) the drawing ca. 1250-1270. He believes (p. 20) that the Reutlingen engraving is very much like that (fol. 14v) in the Bauhüttenbuch of Villard (“wichtigstes Beispiel der Architekturzeichnung des 13. Jahrhunderts”), which he dates before 1235.

Ost does not propose that the Villard plan is the model or source for the Reutlingen engraving, or that Villard was responsible for it, merely that both are examples of the ideal plan of a Cistercian church. He proposes (p. 24) that if a model can be designated for the Reutlingen engraving, it probably should be the plan of the Cistercian church at Bebenhausen, consecrated in 1238.

Reproduces a detail of the Cistercian plan on fol. 14v.



ANON. Review of Bucher facsimile (F.VII). In Journal of the American Institute of Architects (June), p. 63.

More an announcement than a review, where the unknown author mispells Bucher as “Boucher,” and briefly summarizes the contents of the Bucher facsimile.

Reproduces fols. 31r and 32r, possibly after F.VII.


BOULEAU, CHARLES. The Painter’s Secret Geometry: a Study of Composition in Art, New York: Hacker Art Books.

Briefly summarizes (p. 60) Villard’s use of geometrical figures in the design of the human figure as “simple and unpretentious, and their triangulation is quite arbitrary.” Bouleau comments that Villard provides a clear example of the conflicting demands on the Gothic artist, that of drawing correctly from nature and employing predetermined and arbitrary geometric figures for drawings (cf. Huyghe,1958.4).

Bouleau states (p. 60), “Villard de Honnecourt was an architect, architecture was the leading art of his time, and it is patently clear that the geometry which governed decorative art and ‘portraiture’ governed architecture as well.”

Reproduces a detail of a standing figure from fol. 18r (said to be a photograph from the Bibliothèque nationale de France but in fact a drawing made after a photograph) compared with a devil from the Psalter of Blanche of Castile (Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, MS 1186) employing a comparable geometric schemata.


BUCHER, FRANÇOIS. “Les bâtisseurs du moyen-âge: l’architecture vernaculaire ou l’empreinte des particularisme locaux,” Dossiers historie et archéologie, vol. 47, pp. 62-88.

Discusses the responsibilities and pride of the “petits architectes du peuple” of the Middle Ages, in which category Bucher places Villard. Bucher stresses that these architect-contractors could not specialize exclusively in masonry projects but were responsible for a variety of tasks: building bridges, cisterns, fortifications, houses, and the design and construction of practical mechanical devices including weapons. In this latter connection Bucher discusses (pp. 68, 70) Villard’s automatic saw (fol. 22v) and trebuchet (fol. 30r), providing a drawing reconstructing each.

Bucher insists that these versatile individuals were, while not as famous as the masters of significant ecclesiastical building projects, quite proud of their abilities and accomplishments. He cites (p. 82) Villard’s pride (fols. 10v and 15v) in his trip to Hungary as proof of this claim.

Reproduces fol. 30 from a photographic negative.



BARNES, CARL F. JR. “The Drapery-Rendering Technique of Villard de Honnecourt,” Gesta, vol. 20, pp. 199-206.

On the basis of examining the drawings in the portfolio, claims that six separate steps can be sen in Villard’s rendering of finished drapery: (i) leadpoint contour sketch, (ii) leadpoint drapery-fold sketch, (iii) lightly inked determination of contour, (iv) heavier inking of contour, (v) inking of drapery-fold contours, (vi) when present, leadpoint infilling of drapery folds.

Barnes argues that these steps parallel exactly those in metalworking, especially niello work, and reveal that Villard’s professional training, and possibly his profession, was that of a metalworker rather than that of an architect.

Reproduces fols. 11r, 13r, 25r and 25v and details of fols. 3v and 16v after negatives in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.


BARNES, CARL F. JR. Review of Bucher facsimile (F.VII). In Speculum, vol. 56, pp. 595-598.

Contains a summary version of the analysis given here under “The Facsimile Editions,” F.VII.


KIDSON, PETER. Review of Bucher facsimile (F.VII). In Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 40, pp. 329-331.

An essay-review in which Kidson picks up on the theme of Barnes (1978.1, 1980.1, 1981.1), Branner (1973.1), Recht (1981.4), and Shelby (1975.2) to question extensively and eloquently the traditional thesis that Villard was a Gothic architect-mason. Kidson poses penetrating questions to challenge this thesis, especially as articulated by Bucher, and by a series of carefully crafted points systematically destroys Bucher’s various claims. Kidson’s own view is expressed (p. 330) as “But anyone who wishes to insist that Villard really did know what every genuine medieval architect knew certainly has a lot of special pleading on his hands.”

Kidson is charply critical of Villard as architectural draftsman (p. 330): “The man who drew the elevation of Reims [fol. 31v] knew nothing of the geometrical system which determined the relations between its stages. What he drew was nonsense–something which betrays either a garbled misunderstanding or else total ignorance of the ways in which contemporary cathedral designs were put together.” Kidson is far more favorably impressed by other Villard drawings, terming him (p. 329) “a superb exponent of the Mulden[falten]stil.”

This review does contain minor factual errors. Kidson misattributes to Bénard (1864.1) the attribution of the choir of Cambrai to Villard. Bénard in fact rejected this attribution (first made by Quicherat, 1849.1) and attributed Saint-Quentin to Villard.


RECHT, ROLAND. “Sur le dessin d’architecture gothique,” In Études d’art médiéval offertes à Louis Grodecki, ed. André Chastel et alia, Paris: Éditions Ophrys, pp. 233-250.

Discusses several aspects of Villard’s drawings and Villard’s terms referring to his drawings. Regarding the latter, Recht concludes (pp. 234-235) that Villard possessed no technical vocabulary and employed portraiture only in the general sense of “representation.” Recht claims that to Villard esligement simply meant “level,” not “plan;” and that montee meant “view,” not “elevation.” Recht also claims that Villard’s expression al vif (fols.24r and 24v) only meant that he drew his lion from a specific model, not as a creative, invented image, and he had not seen an actual lion.

Recht takes Villard to task as an architectural draftsman. Noting (p. 235) that Villard employed three types of architectural drawings (plans, geometric elevations, and cavalier views), Recht claims that Villard’s chief difficulty was his inconsistency: “Ce qui est le plus frappant chez Villard, c’est l’inégalité avec laquel il aborde à différentes occasions une même problèmatique.” He also states (pp. 235-236) that Villard is inconsistent, claiming to have understood quadrature but unable to recognize it in use when he drew the Lausanne rose (fol. 16r). It is Recht’s opinion that Villard’s drawings would have been totally useless to masons, and that only later in the 13th century did architectural drawings (e.g., the Reims Palimpsest [see Branner, 1958.1 and Murray, 1978.5]; Strasbourg facade drawings) have sufficient detail and consistent geometrically-controlled perspective to have been useful to masons.

Recht gives Villard very little credit as an originl, creative talent. He posits (pp. 234-235) that Villard copied his drawings from a Musterbuch without imposing his personal style or styles on what he copied.

Considering the fundamental question of Villard’s career, Recht begins (p. 234) by contesting Hahnloser’s (F.VII) contention that Villard was an architect and that his portfolio was a Bauhüttenbuch. Recht notes that there is no proof that the Pierre de Corbie with whom Villard collaborated on an architectural drawing (plan on fol. 15r) an architect and (p. 235) that there is nothing in the portfolio that proves conclusively that Villard himself was an architect: “… on serait tenté de le [= Villard] considérer non plus forcement comme l’architecte, mais comme un complilateur, perméable aux charactères formels specifiques de chacune des images compilées.”

Reproduces fols. 6v, 16r, 24v, 30v, 31r, and 32v from photographic negatives in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.


SHELBY, LON R. Review of Bucher facsimile (F.VII). In Technology and Culture, vol. 22, pp. 786-788.

The thrust of this review is the two German manuscripts published by Bucher. However, Shelby does note (p. 787) that Bucher was a student of Hahnloser (F.IV) in Switzerland and that he adheres closely to the latter’s interpretation of Villard and his portfolio.

Dates the portfolio in the 1220s and 1230s.

No illustrations.



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