April: Picking Flowers and Making Wreaths
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.
April: Picking Flowers and Making Wreaths (fol. 2v)
With April, the landscape becomes green and alive, and the month's activity is not laborious, but one for the leisure class. A foppishly dressed youth, his hands filled with freshly picked spring flowers, waits while his lady friend weaves the blossoms into a garland.
At the top of the right border is a depiction of St. George slaying the dragon (April 23). To the right of the zodiacal sign Taurus, the Bull, are Peter the Martyr, stabbed in the chest with a dagger, his attribute (April 29), and St. Eutropius, depicted with the ax with which he was struck in the head and killed (April 30).