The illustrations of this book had a major influence on nineteenth century artists in France, drawing attention to the rich heritage of medieval art and architecture.
Recently the library of the Institute of Art History has been transferred to the University Library. All books can be consulted or lent at the central building from this day onwards. One of the transferred items is the two-volume Monuments Français inédits, pour servir à l'histoire des arts, des costumes civils et militaires, arms et armures, instrumens de musique, meubles ... by Nicolas Willemin and André Pottier, published in1823-1839. This book is one of the many that were published during the nineteenth century, drawing attention to the rich heritage of national art and architecture from the Middle Ages. Books like these were of tremendous importance for the knowledge of and interest in the past, but their value is often overlooked or ignored. The book by Willemin and Pottier for example was the first ever to publish drawings by Villard de Honnecourt. But the illustrations also had a major influence on contemporary artists and inspired a new fashion in interior decorating and the applied arts.
The book by Willemin and Pottier distinguishes itself from other similar books by the high quality of its illustrations. Many books were illustrated with lithographs or, for more luxurious projects, chromolithographs but Willemin, the artists responsible for them, chose etching as the preferred technique. Many of the 300 plates were meticulously hand colored in a most alluring way. Besides, some plates were not just colorored by hand but printed in colors. Willemin used brown, red and blue inks for the process. The unique combination of hand colored plates with printed colored pages makes this book one of the most extraordinary examples of the antiquarian fashion in the nineteenth century.
Collection Leiden University Libraries (21224 K 1)