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:

The Terrible Effects of Deforestation Exposed in Disturbing Print Ads

Now this is one way to convey an important message. Creative director Ganesh Prasad Acharya and co

Wow! A 1,000-Piece CMYK Color Gamut Jigsaw Puzzle

This 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle contains exactly 1,000 different colors arranged in the form of a CMY

Artist Creates Beautiful Art on Dirty CARS!

Scott Wade turns dirty cars into works of art. Using a variety of brushes and painting tools, Scott

YOU Can Create Your Own Amazing Glow-in-the-Dark Table!

Mike Warren has just released a tutorial of how to fill the naturally formed voids in pecky cypress

Old Paintbrushes Transformed Into Beautiful Little Ladies

Don’t know what to do with your old paint brushes?  Instead of throwing them out, why not try

On The Twelve Beards of Christmas

Movember has come and gone… but it’s spirit lives on in DECEMBEARD! Early November, Seattle-base