Secret paintings hidden in books: Magical and intricate 19th century art that appears by fanning the page.
At first glance, the 200-year-old books are handsomely bound, with the edges of their pages painted in gilt.
Look more closely, however, and you will see a beautiful and intricate painting hidden on the edges of the pages.
Known as ‘fore-edge paintings’ (the fore-edge is the opposite of the spine), their existence at all has lain a secret to many since the practice began centuries ago.
Now, however, staff at the University of Iowa have taken a series of photographs showing how the pages of historic books may contain more than just the story written within.
Colleen Theisen, a Special Collections librarian at the University of Iowa, revealed the books’ secrets in an onlineposting entitled ‘It’s a secret to everybody.’
The edges of the books’ pages have been painted in gilt, but what is not immediately obvious is that the margins of each page have also been painted in such a way that when the book is fanned slightly, a picture of a scene emerges.