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On the Edge: The Hidden Art of Fore-Edge Book Painting

Ready for something delightful? On this site, visitors can check out the first ever online exhibition of fore-edge painted books owned by the Boston Public Library. Formerly, books were not shelved with the spine facing out, but rather horizontally and with the opposite edge (fore-edge) facing out instead. Thus the desire developed to make the fore-edge aesthetically pleasing, and artists began to paint the fore-edge with scenes of an assortment of subjects. Some artists began painting scenes that could only be seen when the books pages were fanned out, and when they weren't fanned out, only the gilt on the fore-edge was visible. Visitors who want to read a little more about their history and the progression to double-sided painted fore-edge books, should click on "About Fore-Edge Painting", on the left hand side of the page. In order to watch the magic of the hidden fore-edge come to life, visitors can click on "Featured Works" to watch 15-30 second videos of hidden fore-edge painted books go from appearing to only having a gilt edge. Once they have seen how these remarkable works of art operate, visitors can browse by subject, painting title, or book title by using the "Browse" link on the left hand side of the page.
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