Fol. 4

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Jean Poyer

July: Reaping

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. 4)
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: 

July: Reaping (fol. 4)

The summer harvest continues in July with the reaping of the wheat. Four men, minimally dressed to keep cool, carefully cut the stalks with sickles and lay them in neat bundles. As in June, the foreground features, in the manner of a still life, their containers of food and drink.

Border: At the right are Sts. Margaret, shown emerging from the dragon (July 20), Mary Magdalene, holding her ointment jar (July 22), Christopher, carrying Christ on his back (feast on July 25, but indicated here on July 23), James, as a pilgrim (July 25), and Anne instructing the Virgin (July 26). The zodiacal sign is Leo, the Lion.