Fol. 5

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Jean Poyer

September: Treading Grapes

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. 5)
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: 

September: Treading Grapes (fol. 5)

The task for September is wine making, an activity that requires a division of labor between men and women.

In the fields in the background, seated women pick the grapes, while a man stands, awaiting a full basket to bring to the winepress.

Inside the barn men dump their baskets into large winepresses where the fruit is trampled. Crushed, the grapes are then transferred to a large vat from which, at the bottom, the liquid can be extracted for storing and aging in the nearby barrels.

In the left margin are Sts. Giles, petting a deer (September 1), Anne, shown holding the Virgin (for the Feast of the Birth of the Virgin, September 8), the True Cross (for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, September 14), Matthew the Apostle (September 21), and possibly St. Euphemia (September 16). The zodiacal sign is Libra, the Scales.