Livro de Horas de Henrique VIII

Livro de Horas de Henrique VIII February. Keeping warm, f. 1v

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February. Keeping warm, f. 1v

February is like January: the “labor” is to stay warm and fed. The lord of the house, richly dressed in a fur-lined gown and hat, raises the folds of his clothes, the better to warm his backside. His attention has been caught by the servant, who enters with flagons of wine. The young servant, as is often the case in the art of this era, is more fashionably dressed than his master. He wears a frock with a pleated skirt and with large Lombard sleeves, revealing the influence of Italy on French fashions. Plum-colored hose and a scarlet carmignolle atop his head complete his look.

Poyer’s perspective is more traditionally employed in this February miniature. The perspectival center of the composition is delineated by the left side of the table’s square base. It traces part of an invisible vertical line perpendicular to the picture frame and rising to a vanishing point above the left side of the table, roughly at the level of the servant’s eyes. The space is so clearly described that one could draw a floor plan of the room.

In the left border are the Virgin holding the Christ Child and a candle (for the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, Candlemas, on February 2, in blue) and Sts. Blaise, holding his attribute, an iron comb (February 3) and Agatha, whose breasts are being brutally removed (February 5), and a generic male saint. At the right are Sts. Peter, shown seated in an elaborate throne and blessing (for the feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, February 22, in red), and Matthew the Apostle (February 24, in blue). The next saint, a bishop, might be any one of the three bishop saints listed for the second half of the month: Polycarp (February 23), Honoratus (February 27), or Justus (February 28). The last, rather generic, saint may represent the martyr Victor (February 21).

The zodiacal sign is Pisces, the Fish.

Roger S. Wieck.
Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
The Morgan Library & Museum


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