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The Picturesque

Before the middle of the 18th century, fore-edge paintings were commonly of scrolls, floral designs, and heraldry. But in 1748, with his publication of A Dialogue upon the Gardens . . . at Stow, the parson William Gilpin set in motion a revolution in the way the English viewed landscapes and natural beauties. He distinguished a particular form of beauty called "picturesque," meaning an object or view that was pleasing "from some quality capable of being illustrated in painting."

William Edwards of Halifax was quick to take note, and shortly after Gilpinís next work, his Essay on Prints, was published in 1768, Edwards began adorning his fore-edges with picturesque paintings. The popularity of the picturesque lasted for decades, and these types of paintings have appeared on fore-edges until the present day.


The Christian Institutes Fore-Edge Painting
The Christian Institutes, or, the Sincere Word of God. Being a Plain and Impartial Account of the Whole Faith and Duty of a Christian. Collected out of the Writings of the Old and New Testament: Digested under Proper Heads, and Delivered in the Words of Scripture. By Francis Gastrell, D.D. Canon of Christ-Church, and Preacher to the Honourable Society of Lincolns-Inn. The Second Edition corrected and improvíd. London: Printed by W.B. for Henry Clements at the Half-moon in St. Paulís Church-yard. 1709.

Fore-edge painting: Cismore Castle and bridge (Waterford Co.) and angler.

The Romance of the Forest Fore-Edge Painting
The Romance of the Forest: interspersed with Some Pieces of Poetry. In three volumes. Seventh Edition. By Ann Radcliffe, author of The Mysteries of Udolfo, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, A Sicillian Romance, &c. London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, Paternoster Row. 1806.

Fore-edge paintings: each volume shows a Yorkshire castle.

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Thomas Wilson Fore-Edge Painting
Thomas Wilson. A Short and Plain Instruction for the Better Understanding of the Lordís Supper; with the Necessary Preparation Required; for the Benefit of Young Communicants, and of Such as have not Well Considered this Holy Ordinance; to which is Annexed the Office of the Holy Communion. With Proper Helps and Directions for Joining in Every Part Thereof with Understanding and Benefit. By the Late Right Reverend Father in God, Thomas, Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man. The Thirty-fifth Edition, Corrected. London: Printed for F.C. and J. Rivington, Booksellers to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, No. 62, St. Paulís Church-Yard; by Law and Gilbert, St. Johnís Square, Clerkenwell. 1812.

Fore-edge painting: Rhuddlan Castle, Wales.

The Remains of Henry Kirke White Fore-Edge Painting
The Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, Late of St. Johnís College, Cambridge; with an Account of his Life, by Robert Southey. London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster-Row. 1822.

Fore-edge painting: Nottingham Castle.

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