Hours of Henry VIII

Hours of Henry VIII Facsimile Edition

Tours (France) — Ca. 1500

Illuminated by Jean Poyer: the personal prayer book of perhaps the most famous ruler to sit 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

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  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 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 king by Emperor Charles V.

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. One of the most beautiful handwritten codices in the world arose here. Those illuminated manuscripts still amaze their beholders today. 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. Early on he discussed the literature of his time. He 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 versatilely gifted artist. He illuminated manuscripts, he was a painter and sculptor. 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 book of hours for Henry VIII amaze through their realistically perspectival depictions and exciting variety of colors. The fascinating pictures teem with drama and narrative force. Each miniature of the manuscript is an autonomous, small 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. 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 is found 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 × 18.2 cm
Ca. 1500
55 miniatures including 14 full-page and 29 half-page miniatures, and 12 calendar illustrations
Liturgy of the Hours
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 – MS H.8 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) Facsimile Edition
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.

Libro de Horas de Enrique VIII
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.

Libro de Horas de Enrique VIII
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.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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