Photograph by mattymatton Flickr.
In one instance, the same New Brunswick landscape was applied to both a Bible and to a collection of poetry and plays. The majority of extant examples of fore-edge painting date to the late 19th and early 20th century Fore-edge painting on reproductions of books originally published in the early 19th century. Artists currently expert in the fore-edge artform include UK-based artist, Martin Frost. . The earliest signed and dated fore-edge painting dates to 1653: a family coat of arms painted on a 1651 Bible. Around 1750, the subject matter of fore-edge paintings changed Fore-edge painting from simply decorative or heraldic designs to landscapes, portraits, pornographic, and religious scenes, first in monochrome, and then later in full color.
Early English fore-edge paintings, believed to date to the 14th century, presented heraldic designs in gold and other colors. The first known example of a disappearing fore-edge painting (where the painting is not visible when the book is closed) dates from 1649. A fore-edge painting is a scene painted on the edges of the pages of a book such that the painting is not visible when the book is closed.
In many cases, the chosen depiction related to the subject of the book, but in other cases it did not.