de Honnecourt, Sketchbook
Little is known of Villard de Honnecourt, apart from the fact that his Sketchbook is one of the most treasured documents in art history. Active in the early part of the thirteenth century, the French artist produced remarkably accurate representations of diverse subjects that interested him: religious figures; insects, birds, dogs, and humans; architecture, including details from the cathedrals at Chartres, Rheims, and Laon; church furnishings; and mechanical devices. His technique–for the period–was fairly complex, especially when drawing the contours of draped clothing.
The artist’s charming, annotated sketches reveal a knowledge of architecture, sculpture, carpentry, and masonry; and his comments reflect a keen and perceptive eye, whether depicting a monumental clock tower or describing a perpetual motion machine.
Comparable to da Vinci’s notebooks for their historical importance, the drawings from Honnecourt’s portfolio are reproduced here in their entirety, complete with authoritative translations of the artist’s words, annotations, and editor’s commentary.