Manuscript of Villard de Honnecourt

Thirteenth-century. Villard de Honnecourt. National Library of France, Ms Fr19093.

Also known as The Notebook of Cathedrals, it is a book of illustrations and annotations that was written by Villard de Honnecourt, a 13th-century French architect and sculptor. Although very little is known about Villard de Honnecourt’s life, it is believed that he was born around 1225 in northern France.

Throughout his journey, which was captured in his “Notebook”, he dedicated himself hard to various architectural works. He participated in the construction of the Cistercian abbey in Vaucelles, collaborated in the work of raising the choir of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Cambrai, offered his assistance in that of Saint-Étienne in Reims and in that of Laon, where he focused on its bell tower. Furthermore, he left his mark in places like Chartres and Lausanne.

Not content with limiting himself to France, in 1235, he ventured to Hungary, where he erected the majestic cathedral dedicated to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary in Košice.

This work has around 250 drawings on parchment of 66 pages with detailed sketches, diagrams and notes on architecture and sculpture. In it you can find designs of Gothic cathedrals, geometric figures, studies of proportions and other architectural elements.

The unique work of Villard de Honnecourt is closely related to the construction of European cathedrals of the 13th century and stands out for its beauty as it is the result of a collection of drawings by a prominent artist.

In addition to being a valuable resource for scholars of medieval architecture, it has also aroused the interest of artists and amateurs over the centuries whose manuscript constitutes an important source of inspiration for those interested in understanding and recreating the art and architecture of the medieval times.

This codex has been studied and preserved in the National Library of France, where you can appreciate Honnecourt’s genius and mastery in his visual representation of the medieval world.

Life of Villard de Honnecourt

Villard de Honnecourt was an itinerant artist and architect who left behind a valuable portfolio of sketches and technical procedures encompassing a diverse range of subjects. In his sketchbook, he meticulously documented mechanical devices, geometry, and even zoology. Professor Barnes Jr.’s study of medieval technology sheds light on the representative elements of the Cathedral Chapter that Villard drew. His notes on the buildings have been carefully analyzed and discussed in scholarly works such as Routledge and Ashgate. The new reprint of Villard’s work, now available on in color reproduction, serves as a valuable resource for anyone interested in the art of building cathedrals.

Carl F. Barnes meticulously examines Villard’s drawings and provides detailed descriptions in his revelatory analysis. The dark pigskin portfolio containing Villard’s work is a priceless treasure, with half of it dedicated solely to his sketches. This itinerant artist has left behind a manual with written descriptions of what he saw during his travels, offering a glimpse into the world of medieval architecture and technology.

Illustrations and notes

About architecture:

It includes numerous drawings of different structures and buildings, such as castles and fortifications. These show architectural details such as vaults, pillars and windows, demonstrating Villard’s interest in understanding and representing the construction art of his time. Regarding technology or engineering works:

In addition, it also contains drawings related to technology and engineering works, such as machines and mechanisms. These evidence Villard’s curiosity about mechanics and his interest in the construction of tools and devices. About humans and animals:

Finally, it also includes figures of humans and animals. Teaching manual on how to represent human figures in various poses and animals such as dogs and lions. These show Villard’s artistic ability and his interest in capturing the diversity of life in his creations.

Villard de Honnecourt’s notebook is an extraordinary example of Villard’s concern and knowledge regarding architecture, technology and artistic representations of his time.

Description of the facsimile edition of cuaderno de Villard de Honnecourt

Villard de Honnecourt. thirteenth century. bibliothèque nationale de France, Ms Fr 19093.

Reproduction of the captivating notebook of Villard de Honnecourt. The only treatise on gothic architecture from the Middle Ages.

French. Traditional Gothic script.

About 250 superb drawings on parchment are to be counted on its 66 pages measuring 180 x 245 mm.

Replica of the original manuscript with handmade leather binding and slipcase. Accompanied by a volume of commentaries which includes, among others, the excellent essay by the professor of Art History, Rafael Cómez, who has the honour of having made the same European itinerary that Villard de Honnecourt did in the 13th century.

Limited edition of 898 numbered copies with notarial certificate.

 National Prize 2019. Best books published in 2018. Ministry of Culture. Modality: facsimile books.

Images of Manuscript of Villard de Honnecourt

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