Passion According to John: "Ego sum"
Hours of Henry VIII, in Latin
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection; deposited in 1962, given in 1977
Illuminated around 1500 by the artist Jean Poyer, The Hours of Henry VIII receives its name from the possible but unproven eighteenth-century tradition that holds King Henry of England once owned this splendid manuscript. By following the simple instructions, you can explore every painting of this Renaissance masterpiece and learn how Books of Hours helped their readers to pray.
Books of Hours contain more or less standard texts—Calendar, Gospel Lessons, Hours of the Virgin, Hours of the Cross, Hours of the Holy Spirit, Penitential Psalms with Litany, Office of the Dead, and Suffrages—as well as a number of common accessory prayers. Based on the frequency and variety of added devotions, it appears that scribes included these for owners who wished to personalize their prayer books.
Passion According to John: "Ego sum" (fol. 13)
John's Passion is normally illustrated with an image of Christ's Agony in the Garden or, as here, the Ego sum (I am he). The Latin title of the picture derives from the short but dramatic answer Christ gave to the rough band of soldiers who had come with Judas to arrest him. At his two words, the soldiers fell back in amazement. Behind Christ, St. Peter begins to draw his sword.
The iconography of Poyer's nighttime scene can be traced back to the version painted by the Limbourg brothers in Jean, duc de Berry's, Trés Riches Heures (shortly before 1416), a miniature that, like many in his famous manuscript, was highly influential on French illumination.
Within the group of soldiers on the ground Judas can be identified as the bearded figure at the left clutching his moneybag.