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Monday, May 26, 2014

Artwork Painted on the Edges of Books

Fanned pages of a book to show the artwork on the edge.
        Artwork that’s painted on the edges of book pages is called fore-edge painting.
        There are several types of fore-edge painting:
1. single fore-edge painting -- painting on only one side of the book page edges. Generally, gilt or marbling is applied by the bookbinder after the painting has dried, so as to make the painting completely invisible when the book is closed;
2. double fore-edge painting -- paintings on both sides of the page margin so that one painting is visible when the leaves are fanned one way, and the other is visible when the leaves are fanned the other way;
3. triple fore-edge painting --paintings on the edges with a painting applied directly to the edges (in lieu of gilt or marbling); and
4. panoramic fore-edge painting. paintings that are continuous scenes wrapped around more than one edge are called.

Painting the edge of a book
        Single fore-edge painting includes two basic forms -- paintings on edges that have been fanned cannot be seen when the book is closed, but can only been seen when the edges are fanned. For the second form, the painting is done on the closed edge itself and is visible when the book is closed.   
        Fore-edged paintings came about during the European Middle Ages and became popular during the mid-17th century to the late 19th century.

The speeches of the right honorable William Pitt, v.2 1808
by William Pitt. The book's edge is painted with
George Washington and Benjamin Franklin



Analysis of the Game of Chess, 1790
by François-André Danican Philidor
        Since most fore-edge painters didn’t sign their works, it’s difficult to date the hidden paintings. The Boston Public Library holds one of the finest collections of fore-edge paintings in the United States. You can view them at http://foreedge.bpl.org/


1777. Two-volume set of Duncan & Whitworth “Cicero” with original Edward of Halifax bindings.
Also, each book has a fore-edge scene, likely contemporary to the book itself.
 
 
Susan F. Craft is the author of the award-winning Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile.
She is represented by Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency.
 
 

6 comments:

  1. That is so cool, Susan! How lovely to have the art on the edges of the pages of the books. So beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. It is beautiful, Carrie. The paintings are so detailed, it must have taken a long time to paint them.

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  2. Very cool. I did not know they did that.
    blessings, Tina

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    1. Hi, Tina. I found out about this several years ago. I was so intrigued, I thought about making one of the characters in my novel an artist who did this. I changed my mind and made her a mural, portrait, and wall paper painter. (This was for my Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile.)

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  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Chris. Blessing to you, too. :-)

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