Advertisement

The Lost Art Of Fore-Edge Paintings Reveals Hidden Masterpieces

Feb 12, 2015

Fore-edge painting is a Medieval European art form in which decorative images were painted on the edges of book pages. In most cases, the artwork can only be seen by fanning out the pages of the book. In its closed state, the painting is hidden by the gilding (gold-leaf) on the pages.


Twisted Sifter

The earliest known example of a disappearing fore-edge painting dates back to 1649. The effect is achieved by painting on the outer margins of pages rather than the gilded edges themselves. However, there are "closed" fore-edge paintings that are painted on the edges and visible in a closed state.

Thanks to the generosity of Anne and David Bromer and Albert H. Wiggin, one of the foremost collections of fore-edge painting can be seen at the Boston Public Library. A significant portion of that collection has also been made available online (which is why we're here today). Anne Bromer notes that artists and publishers rarely signed their work at the time, so we may never know who some of the geniuses were behind these. At least we still get to enjoy them.

Split/Double Fore-Edge Painting; The Holy Bible


Johns Hopkins Library: Special Collections & Archives

Chess Players and Board; Analysis Of The Game Of Chess, François-André Danican Philidor, 1790


Boston Public Library

A View of Philadelphia Showing the Delaware; Speeches Of Henry Lord Brougham (v.1), Henry Lord Brougham, 1838


Boston Public Library

"The People Of Orleans Greet Joan Of Arc"; Jeanne d’Arc, Author Unknown


Boston Public Library

Advertisement

George Washington and Benjamin Franklin; The Speeches Of The Right Honorable William Pitt (v.2), William Pitt, 1808


Boston Public Library

Prehistoric Scene; The World Before The Flood, James Montgomery, 1819


Boston Public Library

Old Wych Street in London; The Rambler (v.1), Samuel Johnson, 1825


Boston Public Library

St. Paul's Cathedral; The Holy Bible, 1811


Boston Public Library

Lindisfarne Abbey; Marmion, Sir Walter Scott, 1811


Boston Public Library

Idyllic Country Manor; The Poetical Works Of Alexander Pope, Alexander Pope, 1863


Boston Public Library

Indian River Scene with Hindu Temple; The Curse Of Kehama, Robert Southey, 1812


Boston Public Library

Spring; The Causes, Appearances, And Effects Of The Seasonal Decay And Decomposition Of Nature, Robert Mudie, 1837


University of Iowa: Special Collections & Archives

Advertisement


University of Iowa: Special Collections & Archives

Summer; The Causes, Appearances, And Effects Of The Seasonal Decay And Decomposition Of Nature, Robert Mudie, 1837


University of Iowa: Special Collections & Archives


University of Iowa: Special Collections & Archives

Autumn; The Causes, Appearances, And Effects Of The Seasonal Decay And Decomposition Of Nature, Robert Mudie, 1837


University of Iowa: Special Collections & Archives


University of Iowa: Special Collections & Archives

Winter; The Causes, Appearances, And Effects Of The Seasonal Decay And Decomposition Of Nature, Robert Mudie, 1837


University of Iowa: Special Collections & Archives


University of Iowa: Special Collections & Archives

Credit: Twisted Sifter

Advertisement
Advertisement
Trending Today: