Skip to Content

Hans Vredeman de Vries

This selection from the Rare Book Collection contains several important titles that give a taste of Hans Vredeman de Vries’s versatility and prolificacy as a Dutch Renaissance architect, painter, and engineer.

The Dutch Renaissance architect, painter, and engineer Hans Vredeman de Vries (1527–1607) had a long and successful career. He is best known today for his wide-ranging designs, which contributed to the dissemination of Renaissance ornamental forms, such as cartouches and grotesques, throughout Northern Europe. Although renowned for his significant volume on the application of linear perspective, Vredeman de Vries is also celebrated for his carefully worked-out perspective drawings. His works show knowledge of the architectural theorists Vitruvius and Sebastiano Serlio—whom he studied in Dutch translations published by Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–1550)—both in their design-oriented and theoretical aspects. Dumbarton Oaks holds several important titles that give a taste of Vredeman de Vries’s versatility and prolificacy as an author and draftsman. 

In 1560, Vredeman de Vries produced his first series of architectural perspectives under the title Scenographiae sive Perspectivae for the publisher Hieronymus Cock (1518–1570). This set comprised twenty invented views of cities and buildings shown in meticulously conceived linear perspective. Aimed primarily at painters and amateurs, these fanciful prints were not intended for practicing architects. The subtitle asserts the publisher’s privileges and printing rights, which Cock secured presumably in anticipation of the book’s success. In 1562, he dedicated a similar set of twenty-eight architectural perspectives to Cardinal Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle (1517–1586), an advisor of King Philip II of Spain. Around the same time, Vredeman de Vries created a set of twenty symmetrically arranged architectural perspectives in oval frames, apparently meant as blueprints for intarsia workers. Cock dedicated this book to Peter Ernst (1517–1604), Count of Mansfeld, a courtier to Charles V and Philip II and governor of Luxembourg. Such dedications to notable art collectors and members of court helped the publisher to secure printing privileges and advertise the novelty of Vredeman de Vries’s work. In 1601, this series was published by Theodoor Galle (1571–1633) together with Scenographiae sive Perspectivae under the title Architecturae variae formae.




This online exhibit was curated by Andrés Álvarez Dávila, 2017–2018 Dumbarton Oaks Humanities Fellow.


Exhibit Items