Hours of Henry VIII

Hours of Henry VIII – M. Moleiro Editor – MS H.8 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)

Tours (France) β€” Ca. 1500

A royal jewel of French Renaissance painting by the famous Jean Poyer: the personal prayer book of perhaps the most famous and cruelest ruler on the English throne

  1. The private prayer book of King Henry VIII (1491–1547) is a gem of French Renaissance illumination by Jean Poyer (d. 1503)

  2. The manuscript's illumination is worthy of a king and was possibly commissioned by Emperor Charles V (1500–58)

  3. The masterpiece remained in the possession of the Kings of England through the reign of George III (1738–1820)

Hours of Henry VIII

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€€
(7,000€ - 10,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Hours of Henry VIII

The Hours of King Henry VIII was designed by the master French illuminator Jean Poyer ca. 1500. It contains 55 breathtaking miniatures, which are reminiscent of large panel paintings in their quality. The work was probably gifted to the famous English king by Emperor Charles V and remained in the private possession of the English royal family for centuries. However, this is based on a tradition from the 18th century that has never been conclusively proven, but nonetheless, the codex is regarded as a highlight of French illumination and one of the finest handwritten codices ever made. The incredible miniatures show peasants working amidst idealized landscapes while detailed cityscapes and urban backgrounds paint a beautiful picture of life in a late medieval city. Contemporary garments from the simple clothes of a farmer working in the heat of summer to the sumptuous flowing robes of nobles to the arms and armor of soldiers are depicted with an equal level of detail and realism.

Hours of Henry VIII

Books of hours are private prayer and devotional books that were widely circulated from the 13th century on. The books of hours enjoyed their golden age in the late-14th and 15th centuries in France and Flanders. These illuminated manuscripts still amaze their beholders today and this specimen is regarded as one of the most beautiful handwritten codices in the world. The Hours of King Henry VIII is one of the most exciting works of French book art. It was produced by Jean Poyer, who belongs among the most gifted artists of the French Renaissance. The work is adorned with 55 masterful miniatures.

A Book for the English Crown

King Henry VIII, from the House of Tudor was one of the most dazzling personalities in the history of England. The monarch was infamous for his passion and brutality. His dissolute life has been adapted in countless books, films, and television series. The king was highly educated and spoke fluent Latin and French. He engaged with the literature of his time from an early age. and undertook a years-long correspondence with the famous humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam. The elegant book of hours by Jean Poyer was probably presented to the king by Emperor Charles V as a gift.

A Masterly Performance from France

Jean Poyer was a versatile artist who illuminated manuscripts, painted, and sculpted. In the 16th century, his work was compared with the great paintings of the Dutch master Jan van Eyck. Poyer was a master of composition and perspective. The miniatures of the Hours of Henry VIII inspire with their realistic rendering of perspective and their exciting variety of colors. The fascinating pictures teem with drama and narrative force. Each miniature of the manuscript is a small autonomous work of art.

The History of the Codex

The breathtaking manuscript was preserved over the years and still exists today in an astonishingly good state of preservation. Sources verify that after the death of Henry, the document remained in the hands of English monarchs for many years to come until the work found itself in the library of George III at the end of the 18th century. It was furnished with a red velvet binding that showed the monogram of King Henry. Today the splendid document resides in the famous Morgan Library in New York.


Alternative Titles
Libro de Horas de Enrique VIII
Stundenbuch von Heinrich VIII.
Libro d'Ore di Enrico VIII
Les Heures d'Henri VIII
Livro de Horas de Henrique VIII
Size / Format
400 pages / 26.5 Γ— 18.2 cm
Ca. 1500
55 miniatures including 14 full-page and 29 half-page miniatures, and 12 calendar illustrations
Liturgy of the Hours
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain (1500–1558)
Artist / School
Previous Owners
King Henry VIII (1491–1547)
Charles Benoit Desmanet of Mons
George Wade (1673–1748)
King George II (1683–1760)
King George III (1738–1820)
King George IV (1762–1830)
King William IV (1765–1837)
Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover (1771–1851)
Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1887–1953)
The Heineman Foundation

Available facsimile editions:
Hours of Henry VIII – M. Moleiro Editor – MS H.8 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2014
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Detail Picture

Hours of Henry VIII

July: Reaping of the Wheat

This labor of the month depicts five men harvesting wheat in the hot sun on a cloudless July day. Four of them are minimally dressed to keep cool as they carefully cut the stalks with sickles and lay them in neat bundles. One of them takes a deep drink from a leather bladder that probably contains a mixture of water and wine to booth quench the thirst and sooth the aching muscles of the farmers. The foreground features their containers of food and drink much in the manner of a still life.

Hours of Henry VIII – M. Moleiro Editor – MS H.8 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Single Page

Hours of Henry VIII

David and Uriah

After impregnating Bathsheba, King David sent a letter to Joab ordering him to place her husband Uriah in the front of the battle, where he would surely be killed. Uriah, one knee deferentially bent, has already received the sealed order from David, while his white horse stands ready in the background. A shadowy figure stands by the canopied bed to the left, where the sin was consummated.

David is depicted as a Renaissance prince dressed a blue ermine-lined robe with a stylish, wide-brimmed green hat. Uriah wears contemporary armor, over-the-knee riding boots, and an oriental style hat while girded with a sword and holding a lance. The half-timber structures in the background are typical of a late medieval city in Northern Europe.

Hours of Henry VIII – M. Moleiro Editor – MS H.8 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro de Horas de Enrique VIII

M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2014

Publisher: M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2014
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Binding: Faithful reproduction of the current 18th century binding of red velvet with silver clasps bearing the coat of arms and monogram of Henry VIII
Commentary: 1 volume by Roger S. Wieck
Language: English, Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€€
(7,000€ - 10,000€)
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