Fore Edge Painting -The Erotic Art Revealed
bookbinding
 

Fore edge Painting.

Clare Brooksbank 

clare brooksbankClare has been involved fore edge painting for the book trade since the early 1990s and has created probably close to 1000 works. During this time she has reproduced the work of numerous great masters, some of her favourites being Michelangelo, Raphael, Breugal, Titian and many of the Pre-Raphaelites who are a common source of inspiration. She also enjoys painting erotic fore edges which are always very popular.


Her academic training as a painter and sculptor began at Reigate College, Surrey in the 1980s and she subsequently painted mostly portraits and murals. One of her portraits was exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery's, BP portrait awards 1999. Clare was introduced to Fore edge painting by the renowned antiquarian book dealer Adrian Harrington of Kensington, London. Having seen some of her miniature paintings he was impressed by the detail and offered her work producing fore edge paintings.

Clare is now based in Derby, Derbyshire, UK and mainly produces work for direct sale, selling to collectors and dealers worldwide, through outlets such as eBay. She has also produced several commissioned works for people looking for something novel.

 

 What are Foredge Paintings 

fanned fore edge paintingFore edge paintings are a little known type of book decoration which reached the height of it's popularity in Victorian Britain.

Fore edge paintings are watercolour decorations, painted on the pages edges (the foredge) of a book.

This is achieved by fanning the page block of a book, which is then clamped, whilst an image is applied to the stepped surface of the page edges. The page edges are often themselves gilded or marbled and this results in the painted foredge disappearing when the book is closed. When refanned, the painting magically re-appears.

 

Fore edge paintings came into existence in the mid 17th century, but was little practiced until the end of the 18th century. Although the actual originator of fore edge painting is unknown, the art reached it's peak with the Edwards of Halifax. Today foredge book painting is practiced by only a few select artists. Clare is one of them.

Brief History of the art.

The origination of fore edge paintings are unknown. There are a few theories concerning the development of this art. In the early days of bookbinding manuscripts often had the title painted on the fore edge so that they could be easily identified when stacked.

In the early 17th century, English bookbinders began a form of edge decoration where foredges were painted with highly decorative motifs, including flowers, butterflies, family mottoes, coats-of-arms, or religious images. These decorations were applied to the finest bindings only and were generally painted directly onto the fore edge rather than the ‘fanned' edge. 'Concealed' pictures start to appear later, in the mid 17th century , on bibles and common prayer books. By the latter part of the 17th century, very fine works were being produced.

The concealment of paintings on the fore edge may have been a natural progression of the trend for bookbinders to decorate the whole book. Another theory suggests that fore edge painting developed from the need for the concealment of secret messages, mementoes between lovers and erotic art for gentlemen.  

fore edge painting 2fore edge paintingforedge painting 2This art reached it's pinnacle in the late 18th century with the popularisation of fore edge decoration by the bookbinders and booksellers the Edwards of Halifax.

The Edwards bindings were elegant, unique and achieved great success resulting in the opening of a book store in Pall Mall,  London.

The practice of fore edge painting became widespread, and continued through the 19th and into the 20th century when it declined and dwindled.

 

 

The  art of  painting fore edges continues to this day and is being revived by a few select artists.

These are some examples of Clares fore edge paintings which demonstrate not only her skill as a painter in miniatures, but also her love of the Pre-Raphaelite style.

 

Clare can be contacted by email at claretxu@yahoo.co.uk

 

I do suggest that you pay a visit to Clares website http://www.foreedgeclare.co.uk here you will find more in depth information and a list of Clares books currently for sale.

 

 

EVERY MONTH I SEND OUT THE BOOKBINDERS DIGEST. WHICH AIMS TO BRING YOU INTERESTING ITEMS CONCERNING THE WORLD OF BOOKBINDING AND RELATED CRAFTS. IF YOU WOULD CARE TO SUBSCRIBE PLEASE JUST MAIL ME PUTTING "EDEN" IN THE SUBJECT LINE.

edenworkshops@orange.fr

 

 

   

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