paintings are illustrations applied to the edge of a book in a manner
that when the book is closed, the images are hidden. Only when one fans
the pages of the book are the paintings visible.
technique was first observed on religious books in the mid-17th
century. The process fell out of favor by the early 18th century, but
was revived later that century by the booksellers and bookbinders
Edwards of Halifax who created some of the most impressive examples of
early as the 10th century, there were examples of painting on the edges
of pages, but these early images were visible when the book was closed.
Generally, the term “fore-edge painting” refers to the images that are
undetectable when the pages of the book are not fanned.
create the painting, the pages of the book must be fanned and held in a
clamp. A watercolor painting is applied to the fanned pages. When the
paint dries, the book is released from the vise and the edges of the
book are gilded which successfully protects and hides the painting.
Library & Archives owns two examples of fore-edge paintings –
Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott (PR5305 .E57) and The Oriental
Annual, 1840 (DS412 .B33 1840). If you are interested in viewing these
items, visit the 3rd floor of McCain Library or contact us via e-mail or 601.266.4345.
For more information on fore-edge painting…
Weber, Carl Jefferson. Fore-edge painting; a historical survey of a curious art in book decoration . Irvington-on-Hudson : Harvey House, 1966. (Cook Library ND2370 .W37)
Weber, Carl Jefferson. A
thousand and one fore-edge paintings, with notes on the artists,
bookbinders, publishers, and other men and women connected with the
history of a curious art . Waterville : Colby College Press, 1949. (Cook Library ND2370 .W4)
to Special Collections
Text by Jennifer Brannock, Special