Secret Fore-Edge Paintings Discovered


Autumn by Robert Mudie

Some fascinating images of the nineteenth century’s elegant answer to flick books have been discovered by researchers at the University of Iowa.

Fore-edge painting, which is believed to date back as early as the 1650s, is a way of concealing a painting on the edge of a book so that it can only be seen when the pages are fanned out at a slant. Once the pages are are placed at an angle, the individual strips of paint come together to form a full painting.

Findings of such fore-edge paintings are very rare. Researchers at the University of Iowa’s Special Collections and University Archives Department made this recent discovery of the technique on a 1837 edition of a book called Autumn by Robert Mudie. Further research found that fore-edge paintings were hidden on his other seasonal books; Spring, Summer and Winter, with each painting reflecting elements of the season after which the book is named.


Spring by Robert Mudie

Spring action

Spring by Robert Mudie in action


Summer by Robert Mudie

Summer by Robert Mudie in action

Summer by Robert Mudie in action

You can find out more about fore-edge paintings and the University of Iowa’s Special Collection by clicking here to visit their blog.

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