Secret Paintings in 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa

September 5, 2013 in Art, Painting

A few days ago Colleen Theisen who helps with outreach and instruction at the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa shared an amazing gif she made that demonstrates something called fore-edge painting on the edge of a 1837 book called Autumn by Robert Mudie. Fore-edge painting, which is believed to date back as early as the 1650s, is a way of hiding a painting on the edge of a book so that it can only be seen when the pages are fanned out. There are even books that have double fore-edge paintings, where a different image can be seen by flipping the book over and fanning the pages in the opposite direction.

Above and below are photos of SpringSummerAutumn and Winter which were donated to the University of Iowa by Charlotte Smith. How much fun are these? Keep an eye on the University of Iowa’s special collections Tumblr as they unearth more artificats from the archives.

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books

Autumn by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Autumn by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa




Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa




And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a piece of original art to hang on your walls, check out artFido HERE!


artFido Popular Art Button For Blog

Currently trending on artFido:

A Photographic Series of School Lunches From Around The World

Remember the days as a kid when you used to trade your lunch with your friends for something better,

Jimmy Choo the Bull Terrier Stars in Imaginative Illustrations

What do you get when you put together an illustrator, his Bull Terrier, and some white walls? An ima

A 365 Miniature Painting a Day For a Year Project by Lorraine Loots

Postcards for Ants is an ongoing painting project by Cape Town artist Lorraine Loots who has been c

Sublime Splattered Ink Animal Portraits by Hua Tunan

Chinese artist Hua Tunan is back with more incredible splattered ink portraits. Born in 1991 in Fo

Hyperrealistic Oil Paintings of Feminine Beauty by Anna Halldin Maule

Initially, these images appear to be crisp, elegant photographs. However, in reality, each hyperreal

Adorable Underwater Photos of Puppies Diving Into Water

Seth Casteel, whose series of underwater photos of dogs fetching their ball first went viral in 20