Reference Entry

Villard de Honnecourt

Carl F. Barnes jr

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T089672

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[ Wilars dehonecort ; Vilars dehoncort ]

(b ?Honnecourt-sur-l’Escaut, nr Cambrai, Picardy; fl c. 1220–40).

French draughtsman. He is known only through a portfolio of some 250 drawings, about one-sixth of which are of architectural monuments (Paris, Bib. N. MS. Fr. 19093). His fame is due to the uniqueness of these drawings and to the 19th-century claim that he ‘erected churches throughout the length and breadth of Christendom’ (Mâle, Eng. trans., p. 55). However, there is no proof that he designed or built any church anywhere.

In his portfolio, Villard said nothing of his occupation and claimed not a single artistic creation of any type. He may not have been an architect or a professional craftsman but merely an inquisitive layman who travelled widely, recording some of the things he saw during his travels. The claim that Villard was educated in the Cistercian monastic school at Vaucelles is unsubstantiated, and the tradition that he knew Latin is suspect: the one Latin word attributed to him, ...

Reference Entry.  1669 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Painting ; Architecture ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)

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