Fore-edge painting
dog artMelody Krafft, Artist - Logo
About the Artist

Easton Press, 1979. One of a kind copy of this ground breaking book by Charles Darwin. With a preface by Ashley Montagu and drawings by Fritz Kredel. Fore-edge painting by Melody Krafft. Genuine black leather binding with decorative gilt.

The fore-edge painting depicts the evolution of the horse. Five of the six evolutionary time periods are represented in this illustration of the horse: the Mesohippus 30 million years ago, the Merychippus 20 million years ago, the Pliohippus 14 million to 7 million years ago, and the Equus, the modern horse.

What are fore-edge paintings? 

Fore-edge paintings are rare and found mainly in libraries and private collections.   For an artist to create a fore-edge painting the pages are fanned.  Then by clamping the fore-edge of a book, a surface is formed exposing the tiny edges of each page.  A miniature watercolor painting is applied to these edges.  An edge decoration, such as gold gilt, sometimes marbling, hides the painting.  The fore-edge painting is only seen when the book is open and fanned.  When closed the painting disappears, creating a phantom image.

In the 10th century, monks cataloguing monastery libraries identified books by lettering “class-marks” on the closed edges. Eventually, these marks included names, family crests, and other decorative objects, often in color. By the 17th century, someone decided to fan and clamp the front edge of the book, thus holding the pages in place so that the paintings could be applied. The earliest known signed and dated fore-edge painting is on a copy of the Holy Bible published in 1651 on which the Lewis brothers, Stephen and Thomas, apparently worked together. It was signed and dated in 1653. The Bible now resides in the New York Public Library.

As all art changes through the ages, fore-edge painting is no exception.  Today we have new materials, evolution in technology and thought.  Art is not isolated from its time.  In ancient times we had cave paintings.  Art changed its form in the Middle Ages which represented an Age of Faith, which was later replaced in the Renaissance, a rebirthing with works of great artists like DaVinci, and Giotto, and fast forward into the 20th century we had Cubism and Expressionism. 

Now in the 21st century, it is indeed time to create new fore-edge paintings that represent the soul of the times with the resources that are available today.  Fore-edge painting is about to change.  Materials now permit the fore-edge painting to be seen and protected from the elements while the book is closed as a new form of artistic expression.  While we can still admire the traditional beauty of the hidden painting, innovative fore-edge painting of the 21st century is what the artist must explore.  Melody Krafft creates both, the traditional fore-edge paintings and modern 21st century fore-edge paintings.

Fore-edge Painting Gallery

To view gallery, click here

How can I purchase a fore-edge painting?
You may contact Melody Krafft directly or contact Yeoman’s In The Fork, a Rare Book and Document Gallery. Click here to view the exciting world of fore-edge paintings.

Fore-edge Painting Talks and Workshops

Inquiries for appearances, workshops and private lessons are welcomed. Please contact me for further details.