Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cries of London on fore-edge painting

Wheatley's picture of a street seller carrying strawberries in pottles is actually on the fore-edge of a book of poems by William Cowper.  What's even more remarkable is there is a different picture if seen from back to front.

This picture of "The Cries of London: Peas, Strawberries, Cherries," is painted on the fore-edge of the book Poems, by the late William Cowper, 1820. It is in a phenomenal collection of fore-edge paintings, from the Rare Books Depart. of the Boston Public Library, HERE.  To view the image the pages were fanned out...

Poems, by the late William Cowper, Esq. of the Inner-Temple. London, W.H. Reid, Charing-Cross, 1820.
Vol. I (from the front) 1. Primroses. 2. Milk. 3. Oranges.
(from the back) 4. Matches. 5. Mackerel. 6. Scissors.
Vol. II. (from the front) 7. Peas. 8. Strawberries. 9. Cherries.
(from the back) 10. Chairs. 11. Love Songs. 12. Gingerbread.

Fore-edge paintings are viewed by slightly fanning the page edges. When closed the edges of the page may be gold gilded. To view a video snippet of revealing the painting, see HERE, at Martin Frost's site, which also shows a Split Double Press, at right. 

For further information on the history of fore-edge painting check out the online copy of A thousand and one fore-edge paintings, with notes on the artists, bookbinders, publishers, and other men and women connected with the history of a curious art; by Carl J. Weber. Waterville, ME: Colby College Press, 1949. HERE
©2011 Patricia Bixler Reber

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