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.
March: Pruning (fol. 2)
In the early spring month of March, work begins outdoors with the typical labor of pruning the vineyard. Workers trim the leafless vines and tie them to the grape arbor. A wood cask for drink is in the foreground.
Among the scenes depicted in the margins are, at bottom left, St. Gregory with a vision at the altar of Christ (for the Feast of St. Gregory, March 12), and the Annunciation (March 25), at bottom right. Above the seated Virgin is St. Helena, discoverer of the True Cross, whose May 22 feast has been entered here mistakenly on March 31. The zodiacal sign is Aries, the Ram.