Double Fore-Edge Paintings

Double fore-edge painting is one of the rarer styles of fore-edge painting. As the name suggests if you fan the text block of a book one way you can view one scene, and if the text block is fanned in the opposite direction you can see another scene. This technique apparently dates back to the mid-eighteenth century or at least that is when a date can be positively assigned to one. Additionally, the scenes on the oldest existing double fore-edge paintings have landscape and picturesque scenes, not the floral designs that would date to the earlier period. The most productive time for double fore-edge paintings was between 1785 and 1835. The difficulty in creating a double fore-edge is the most likely reason that there are so few of them. Perhaps two or three percent of existing volumes with fore-edge paintings are doubles (Weber 99).


This copy of Lalla Rookh boasts a double fore-edge painting. When fanned to the right, the pages reveal a painting of Ross Castle. When fanned to the left, they show a beautiful painting of Old Weir Bridge in Killarney , Ireland . (Moore, Thomas. Lalla Rookh: An Oriental Romance . London : Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1826.) (From the George M. & Frances L. Gill Collection)



(The Duke of Beaufort and Mowbray Morris. Hunting . London : Longmans, Green, and Co., 1886.) (From the George M. & Alice Gill Collection)


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last updated on April 5, 2006

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