- Carl F. Barnes, Jr., Oakland University, USA
This new facsimile edition of the Portfolio of the 13th-century Picard artist Villard de Honnecourt is the first ever to be published in color. The thirty-three leaves are reproduced at actual size from high-quality color transparencies to ensure the best possible color reproduction of the drawings. One can now see variations in inks and quill strokes, traces of preliminary drawings, and corrections made by the artist.
This study is also the first to give a thorough description of the condition of the leaves, analysis of each drawing in the portfolio individually, and new transcriptions and literal and free translations of the inscriptions. The opening chapter covers the history and physical condition of the portfolio, including reassigning "hands" to text found on the leaves. The author analyses the tools and inks used, Villard's drawing technique and style, and evaluates Villard as an artist-draftsman. Chapter II, the body of the book, is devoted to detailed analyses of the leaves, one by one, and their drawings and inscriptions. These analyses are of interest to those concerned with medieval technology and theology as well as to those interested in medieval art and architecture.
Chapter III is a new biography of Villard that challenges the many wild speculations of the last century and a half about Villard, separating obvious fiction from possible fact. Barnes analyzes in detail Villard's drawings of different Gothic buildings and makes a case for Villard having been a lay representative of the cathedral chapter at Cambrai, one of the buildings Villard drew.
An extensive bibliography of Villard studies and a glossary of Villard's technical and artistic terms complete this important new study.
Contents: Foreword, Nigel Hiscock; Preface; The Portfolio; The individual folios; Villard de Honnecourt: a minimalist biography; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Carl F. Barnes, Jr, is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, USA, where he taught for 30 years. A graduate of Washington and Lee University (B.A., 1957) and Columbia University (M.A., 1959; Ph.D., 1967), Barnes has published extensively on the Cathedral of Sts. Gervase and Protase at Soissons, France, and on the Portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt. He maintains an Internet site (http://www.villardman.net) with extensive information about the portfolio, including Barnes’ bibliography of writings on the Villard portfolio from 1666 to the present. Barnes has served in a number of scholarly administrative positions, including terms as president of ICMA (The International Center of Medieval Art) and AVISTA (Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Study of Medieval Technology, Science, and Art).
Reviews: Winner, CAA Millard Meiss Publication Fund Grant
'The Portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt is a very thorough and systematic analysis of a book of which it is fair to say, with Barnes:'The Villard Portfolio is among the rarest and most famous of Gothic survivals' (p. 22). The work is excellent.' ISIS
‘Whatever Villard's vocation, one of the admirable accomplishments of this book, its color reproductions, and Barnes's meticulous descriptions of the portfolio's pages, re-focuses appreciative attention on his "extraordinary skill" as a draftsman…’ Michael T. Davis in The Medieval Review
‘It is a tremendously useful book… The color photos of each page (as well as the cover) and the painstakingly prepared descriptions and remarks that accompany each image are perhaps the volume’s greatest contribution. The matter of color is not a minor one… The color plates are a revelation.’ H-France
‘… a wonderfully rich and informative volume, and a great scholarly achievement.’ Medium Aevum
'Professor Barnes is to be thanked warmly for this, the first color facsimile of a little book of drawings from the grand age of Gothic (1220s-1240s). His careful work on codicology and translations, the new glossary and bibliography, and his insightful analysis and contextualization of the drawings themselves make this new critical edition indispensable to all students of thirteenth-century cultural production.' Stephen Murray in Speculum
The author has created a website The Portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt
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