“Taking Villard’s Lion at Face Value”
Wednesday, March 21, 5:15 pm
Villard de Honnecourtʼs frontal lion—more precisely, the adjacent comment that the drawing was contrefait al vif—has long provoked questions about the artist, his intention, and his veracity. Does the comment mean what it seems to say? Does Villard say what he means? By extension, the lion and the claims made for it require us to consider whether Villard worked “from life” (that is, from firsthand observation); how we might reach a reasoned conclusion on that point of workshop practice, and above all, why this issue warrants our serious attention. This paper responds to these questions by offering some guidelines for separating things seen from things imagined, and by proposing just why we should care about Villardʼs status as a truth-teller.
Jean A. Givens is Professor of Art History at the University of Connecticut.