February: Keeping Warm
Hours of Henry VIII, in Latin
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
256 x 180 mm
The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection; deposited in 1962, given in 1977
MS H.8 (fol. 1v)
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.
February: Keeping Warm (fol. 1v)
February's labor is not much different from January's. The lord of the house, richly dressed in fur-lined garments and hat, raises the folds of his clothes, the better to warm his backside. His attention has been caught by his servant, who enters with flagons of wine.
In the left border are the Virgin holding the Christ Child (for the Feast of the Purification, February 2) and Sts. Blaise (holding his attribute, an iron comb, February 3), Agatha, whose breasts are being removed (February 5), and a generic male saint. The zodiacal sign is Pisces, the Fish.