Fol. 134v

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Jean Poyer

Matins: Feast of Dives
Border: Dives in Hell

Hours of Henry VIII, in Latin
Illuminated by Jean Poyer

France, Tours
ca. 1500
256 x 180 mm

The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection; deposited in 1962, given in 1977

MS H.8 (fol. 134v)
Item description: 

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.

Page description: 

Matins: Feast of Dives
Border: Dives in Hell (fol. 134v)

The second illustration for the Office of the Dead is smaller and is laid out like the Calendar and Suffrages, where half-page miniatures are in full color and marginal scenes in grisaille.

In the miniature the elegantly dressed rich man and his wife are about to enjoy a meal; Dives, who receives a glance from his wife, looks with disdain at a poor man named Lazarus entering the banquet hall.

The main subject of this illustration is the Feast of Dives, which derives from Luke's parable of the rich man (16:19–31). According to the story an unnamed rich man (Latin: dives) ate sumptuous meals every day in full view of a poor man named Lazarus.

Lazarus sought only the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table; however, while none were given him, the rich man's dogs came and licked Lazarus's sores. The beggar died and was carried by angels to Abraham's bosom.

A disinterested attendant stands nearby, while three dogs head toward Lazarus, who carries a small wooden keg and a clapper to warn passersby that he is a leper.

Abraham replied that he had received good things in his lifetime, while Lazarus had received evil things, but now Lazarus would be comforted while he would be tormented. It is, of course, significant that the poor man is worthy of being named while the rich man is not (this Lazarus, not to be confused with the Lazarus resurrected by Christ, has his feast day on June 21).

Down below, in the flames of hell (appropriately painted in red grisaille), Dives sees Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham (in heavenly blue grisaille) and points to his mouth, a reference to his unfulfilled request. The rich man died and ended up in hell, where, in considerable torment, he lifted his eyes and saw the dead Lazarus cradled by the patriarch. Suffering hell's flames (cf. lower half of image), the rich man asked Abraham to have Lazarus dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue.