Tudor Books

Recently, my favorite museum in North America the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City opened an impressive new exhibition, The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England. Spanning King Henry VII’s seizure of the throne in 1485 to the death of his granddaughter Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, the Tudor era was a period when the arts thrived. In this exhibition, more than 100 objects bring all of that to the fore through vibrant portraits, tapestries, sculpture, armor, and, of course, Tudor books and manuscripts.

Books and manuscripts on view include:

The Book of Hours of Mary of England, Queen of France (pictured above), tempera on vellum ca. 1495-1500 with miniature attributed to the Master of Claude de France, ca. 1514. This book was gifted by King Louis XII to his bride, Mary, sister to Henry VIII. She later presented it to Henry.

Two editions of Astronomicum Caesareum, an astrological text used by royalty to map the stars to make critical decisions, printed in 1540 by Georg and Petrus Apianus with hand-colored woodcuts by Michael Ostendorfer. According to the Met, “Henry VIII, who owned the finest contemporary books on the market, likely kept his copy alongside other astronomical books in the Secret Jewel House at the Tower of London.” Watch this book “in motion” here.

“Acts of the Apostles and the Apocalypse,” a stunning Flemish manuscript on vellum, ca. 1519–27, with a miniature attributed to Lucas Horenbout (Flemish, Ghent 1490/95–London 1544) or Susanna Horenbout (active ca. 1520–1550). The illustrations show the Tudor dragon and greyhound, Tudor roses, and the Beaufort portcullis of Henry VIII’s grandmother.

The Psalter of Henry VIII . This tempera on parchment prayerbook, with miniatures by the French artist Jean Mallard, was used by the king himself—it even features his handwritten annotations.

Two Bibles are highlighted: The Coverdale Bible, printed in 1535, with title page designed by Hans Holbein the Younger, and The Great Bible of 1540, printed on vellum, with title page attributed to Lucas Horenbout; the hand-tinted and parchment-printed edition on view was owned by Henry VIII.

Instruction of a Christen Woman by Juan Luis Vives was printed in London in 1557. Was this one of Queen Elizabeth I’s favorites? According to the Met, it was originally written in Latin for the young princess Mary.

Tabula Cebetis, and De Mortis Effectibus,” a 1507 scholarly manuscript transcribed by an Italian friar, was meant to be a gift for Henry VII.

Octonaries Upon the Vanitie and Inconstancie of the World,” ca. 1600, is an ink and watercolor manuscript made by a woman, Esther Inglis (French or British), who transcribed and painted devotional texts.

The First and Chief Groundes of Architecture Used in All the Auncient and Famous Monymentes (1563) by John Shute is the first architectural treatise printed in English. Shute wrote it at the request of King Edward VI, but it was published during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

The exhibition will remain on view through January 8, 2023.


This entry was posted in Art, Books, Europe, History, Libraries, Museums, Tourism, USA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Tudor Books

  1. Sherry Felix says:

    I must go see that exhibit.

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