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November 21, 2010

Fore-Edge Paintings


From Eve M. Kahn's article in Friday's New York Times: "Book collectors in Europe and the United States over the last two centuries entertained guests by bringing out volumes with secret pictures. The page edges, when slanted at certain angles, reveal miniature landscapes full of ruins and castles."

"A few hundred of the images, known as fore-edge paintings, were hidden on the bookshelves of Dorothy Shea, an owner of nursing homes in California who died in 2006. On Dec. 3, Christie’s in New York will auction her collection. Estimates range from $300 for an inch-tall Victorian prayer book with a view of a Gothic church along its rim to $20,000 for a 1640s volume on the history of French Huguenot wars painted with fore-edge flowers, a butterfly and a snail."

The caption for the illustration up top, which accompanied the Times story: "A fore-edge painting of a billiard game on a 1722 Book of Common Prayer, part of the collection to be auctioned by Christie's."

"The auction previews starting Nov. 27 will offer a rare chance to see fore-edge works. Museums almost never display them; when the pages are kept pressed open even for a few weeks to expose the paintings, the books could end up permanently curled."

"Jeff Weber, a bookseller in Los Angeles... has written and published a new study, 'An Annotated Dictionary of Fore-edge Painting Artists and Binders (Mostly English and American).'"

Videre est credere.

November 21, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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