Thursday, July 31, 2008

Antiquarian Fore Edged Paintings

There is beauty inside of a novel, but did you know the outside edges? I've never heard of "fore-edge paintings" until I came upon a intricate photo of a antiquarian book with a detailed painting  on the page ends. This technique and art form is as old as the 10th century.

There are several types, one type is painted right on the page ends when the book is at its normal stat. A second technique is a hidden painting that can only be revealed when the pages are fanned some. 

Such paintings in it's popularity were simple floral patterns or royal seals. Later in the 18th century, the paintings became landscapes. They are still in tradition today, you can find these treasures in museums and artists like Martin Frost who has produced well over 3000 Fore-edge and Miniature Paintings for the Book Trade.

It's like finding buried treasure. The magic transformation of a bright gilded book-edge into an intricate little painting and then see it fade back into a gold grain, this beautiful discovery never fails to the delight. Here is a prime examples of this exquisite work:


1 comment

clare said...

Fore-edge painting is a centuries old art, older examples can still be found for sale (but check the provenance very carefully if you intend to buy!), however there are also a small number of artists including myself keeping the tradition alive. For more info on the background of fore-edge painting, please feel free to view my website at

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