The first time I saw a fore-edge painting was as a freshman, on an orientation tour of the rare book collection of my college library. I love books and art, so I was thoroughly entranced by the combination, particularly since the paintings I saw were hidden and could be revealed only to those who knew the secret. In the years since I learned of the existence of fore-edge painting, I have continued to seek them in most of the libraries and book shops I have had occasion to visit. What might be called the golden age of the art of fore-edge painting occurred in Britain in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and thus was in full swing during our favorite decade. That is why this delightful art form merits discussion here. Once they know about fore-edge paintings, will any Regency author be able to resist gifting at least one of her characters with one, or more, books which are so adorned?
Fore-edge paintings through the Regency . . .
The fore-edge of a book is the edge of the text block on the opposite side of the book from its spine. Though it may seem strange to us today, when the earliest books were first placed on bookshelves, many centuries ago, they were typically shelved with the spine against the back of the shelf and the fore-edge facing out. This was most often done because it was not the practice at that time to place the title of a book on the binding. Books were so valuable and rare that they were usually bound in wooden boards which were covered with rich cloth or fine leather. Many were either embroidered or studded with precious or semi-precious stones in order to further enhance their value. Therefore, it became common to write the title of a book on the exposed pages of the fore-edge. Since books were shelved with the fore-edge out, this practice made it very convenient to find the book one wanted.
By the fifteenth century, a number of book owners had the fore-edges of their books decorated with either drawing or painting to create a border around the title of the book that was written there. It was not long before this simple decoration expanded into more elaborate decoration on the fore-edges of many large and valuable books. This would add a very decorative appearance, not only to the books, but to the bookshelves on which they stood. And, if each painting on a book’s fore-edge was unique, it would still be easy for most owners to identify each of their books. At that time, a large library was typically less than fifty books. Only royalty, or the extremely affluent, had more books in their collections. Such wealthy and powerful people usually also had clerks or librarians who managed their books and got them the volumes they wanted, when they wanted them. Therefore, they had no need to remember which painted scene was associated with which book title. For the next couple of centuries, quite a few valuable books, in libraries across the Continent, were painted on their fore-edges.
Then, in the latter half of the seventeenth century, in England, these fore-edge paintings began to vanish. It is not that artists stopped painting them. Rather, it was that the paintings were no longer executed on the fore-edge of the text block when the book was closed. Instead, the leaves of the text block were fanned, placed in a vice-like press, and the scene was carefully painted on the fanned edge. Thus, a tiny sliver of the painting was to be found on the very edge of each leaf and became invisible when the book was closed. There is an amusing anecdote which explains how vanishing fore-edge paintings were first introduced. The tale is told that King Charles II often lent books to one of his lady friends, a duchess. But the duchess made little effort to return them. Therefore, King Charles II instructed his bookbinder, Samuel Mearne, and his court painter, Peter Lely, to come up with a discreet means by which to identify the books in his library. Between them, they brainstormed an elegant solution. The King’s coat-of-arms was painted on the fanned surface of the fore-edge of each of his books. Mearne and Lely took the additional step of gilding the edges of the text block, making their secret painting completely invisible when the book was closed. According to this story, some time later, the King paid a visit to the duchess. He noticed a book on one of her shelves, picked it up and told the lady he would be taking his book with him. The duchess objected, saying the book was hers. With a slow smile, the King fanned the pages of the book, where he showed her his coat-of-arms painted on the fore-edge. The duchess, knowing she had been caught out, could do nothing more than acquiesce, with a curtsey to her King.
Another story has it that the Queen’s Binders, a group of exceptionally skilled and creative bookbinders who were working in England during the reign of King Charles II, developed the concept. According to that tale, these bookbinders, wishing to further embellish some of the more elegant and sophisticated books which they bound for their best clients, experimented with painting various symbols on the fanned fore-edges of those books. They also further concealed the paintings by gilding or marbling all three edges of the text block. Since Samuel Mearne was bookbinder to King Charles II, it is quite possible that it was he who shared the concept of vanishing fore-edge painting with his colleagues. Those bookbinders may have embraced this new book embellishing technique since the inclusion of a fore-edge painting on a book for a valued client was not only a special treat for that client, it might also encourage that client to continue to patronize them in the future.
From the last half of the seventeenth century well into the mid-eighteenth century, a small number of wealthy British book owners had paintings, or sometimes drawings, executed on the fore-edges of some of their most prized or valuable books. Like the images which were depicted on the fore-edges of the King’s books, these fore-edge paintings were often the owners’ coat-of-arms or family crest. Those owners who were not armigerous generally had decorative designs, such as flowers, plants or religious symbols, painted on the fore-edges of their books. In most cases, these were vanishing fore-edge paintings, that is, paintings which were painted on the fore-edge of the text block while it was fanned and clamped in a press. Such paintings were usually not visible when the book was closed. Generally, all three free edges of the text blocks of books with vanishing fore-edge paintings were usually gilt, or sometimes marbled, in order to further conceal any evidence of a fore-edge painting when the book was closed.
In the second half of the eighteenth century, the designs which were painted on the fore-edges of books began to change. Instead of just coats-of-arms, family crests or floral patterns, more complex scenes, such as landscapes, Biblical scenes and occasionally, portraits, gradually began to appear on the fore-edges of books. However, fewer people were choosing to have the fore-edges of their books painted and the art was slowly falling out of fashion. Then, about 1780, the art of fore-edge painting was revived, by Edwards of Halifax, a family of bookbinders based in the city of Halifax, in West Yorkshire. The patriarch, William Edwards, was a publisher who went on to open his own book shop and eventually established his own bookbinding business. Four of William Edwards’ sons, James, John, Thomas and Richard, continued to run their father’s firm, after his passing in 1808, right through the period of the Regency. James Edwards was probably the most adventurous of the brothers. During his lifetime (1756 – 1816), he was a publisher, book binder/seller, a gentleman spy and a bibliophile. Such a bibliophile, in fact, that he ordered his coffin be constructed of boards from the bookshelves in his personal library. It is believed that John Edwards was the most artistically-inclined member of the family. If John did not introduce fore-edge painting into the firm’s book-related offerings, he may have painted a number of them, as well as supervising other artists who did such work for the firm. Unfortunately, there is little surviving documentation with regard to the specific details of the practice of fore-edge painting by the Edwards firm.
In the early 1780s, the Edwards had developed a technique by which to render vellum nearly transparent. This special vellum was then used in the binding of books. To further gild the lily, a number of these bindings were painted on the underside, much like paintings on glass were executed. It seems that at about this same time, some of these books with the painted vellum covers were also given the additional embellishment of a vanishing fore-edge painting. In some cases, the painting on the vellum cover, and the fore-edge painting were related, such as a Book of Common Prayer which was decorated with Biblical scenes, both on the cover and the fore-edge. In other cases, the paintings illustrated subjects of importance to the person who had commissioned the binding and fore-edge painting. Some book owners had views of their country estates painted on the cover and the fore-edge of their books. Vignettes of garden follies or other features on the grounds might appear on the painted cover, while a grand landscape which featured the manor house was painted on the fore-edge. Other owners preferred to have the cover and the fore-edge painted with images which harmonized with the contents of the book. For example, a book on Greek or Roman mythology might be covered with paintings illustrating the mythological events and locations described in the book. Books dealing with sport were often decorated with an image of one of the sports discussed within painted on the fore-edge.
It is known that Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, commissioned a painted vellum cover and fore-edge from Edwards for a copy of William Mason’s lengthy poem, The English Garden. Her coat-of-arms was painted on the front cover, and a view of Chatsworth was painted on the fore-edge. Georgiana gave this book to the Reverend John Marshall as a gift. Another volume, known today as the Broxbourne Book of Common Prayer, had a painted vellum cover with monochrome paintings of the wise virgin on the back and the ruins of Tintern Abbey on the front. It had a color painting of the Resurrection on the fore-edge. A copy of A Tour Through the South of England, Wales and Part of Ireland did not have a painted vellum cover, but it was decorated with a fore-edge painting of Lucan House, in Dublin. In most cases where a fore-edge painting was commissioned by the owner of the book, they usually chose the subject for the painting. However, there were at least a few cases where the book owner simply wanted a fore-edge painting on one or more of their books and did not care about the subject depicted. In those cases, is it not clear if the book binder or the artist chose the subject to be painted.
Within a few years, even those customers who did not want a painted vellum cover would commission a fore-edge painting for a special book from the Edwards book bindery. Some might commission a fore-edge painting which was related to the contents of the book, while others might want a painting of a favorite landscape or some other scene. In the last decade of the eighteenth century, the Edwards firm began to produce a number of books with fine leather bindings and fore-edge paintings, without commissions. By that time, people were developing an interest in English country houses and their grounds. The Edwards quickly realized there was also a ready market for beautifully bound books with fore-edge paintings of the most well-known and elegant country houses in England. Booksellers had also become aware of this market, and were ordering small lots of books with fore-edge paintings from Edwards for sale in their shops. In these cases, it appears that artists for Edwards were directed which subjects to paint by one of the Edwards brothers, probably John. For example, some books of poems by Lord Byron had fore-edges which were painted with a view of his estate, Newstead Abbey.
By the last decade of the eighteenth century, though no other bookbinders could offer painted vellum book bindings, since the process to make transparent vellum had been patented by the Edwards, some of them were offering fore-edge painting. Initially, it seems that most fore-edge paintings were done on commission, but by the turn of the nineteenth century, certainly the Edwards, and probably a number of other bookbinders, were offering books with fore-edge paintings ready painted. Small lots of these books were distributed to various upscale booksellers around the country. At that time, books on the topography of Britain and books of prints featuring views of notable British places were in great demand. Quite a few copies of these books, with fine bindings, had fore-edges which were painted with landscapes of one of the locations in the books. Some travel books were also decorated with fore-edge paintings, often with a scene of one of the places discussed in the book. Curiously, a few science books, and even some catalogs, from the early nineteenth century, have been found with fore-edge paintings. It is not clear if someone commissioned those paintings on those specific books, or if they were used as a convenient canvas by a fore-edge artist who was simply practicing his trade.
In time, more and more fore-edge paintings featured portraits, sometimes of the author of the book, but in many other cases, of the owner of the book, or, if it was a gift, of the intended recipient. When portraits were first included in fore-edge painting, they were rather small and often flanked by other images, since most fore-edge paintings were executed in landscape layout, that is, along the fanned pages when the book was held with the back cover down. Over time, some of these fore-edge paintings were executed with the fanned pages held vertically, with the bottom of the book down. Once this technique had been developed, portraits were often painted much larger, so they could fill most of the available space on the fanned pages in the vertical position. It soon became a regular practice to paint the fore-edges of books with portraits of popular figures of the day, such as Nelson, Wellington, or King George III. The Prince Regent was not very popular with the public, and there seem to have been few, if any, fore-edges painted with portraits of him.
Even before the eighteenth century came to an end, it may come as no surprise to learn that at least a few of these fore-edge paintings contained rather erotic images. Some were painted on books with equally erotic content, while others were painted on books with perfectly ordinary content. Since they were not visible when the book was closed, fore-edge paintings with such naughty images were generally out of sight of prying eyes, like the hidden covers of some erotic snuff boxes. Those risqué fore-edge paintings were also usually not visible when the book was open, unless the reader caught sight of the extremely narrow strip of color which ran down one edge of each leaf of the book. If that should happen, of course, and the reader knew to fan the pages, the sensual secret painting would be revealed.
Most fore-edge painters were skilled miniature painters, since these paintings tended to be fairly small and required a lot of detail. It is believed that at least some of the painters employed by the Edwards bindery were regular employees of the firm. They may have been responsible for painting either the transparent vellum bindings or book fore-edges. However, it is possible that Edwards may have contracted for additional painters on an as-needed basis, when they had particularly large orders to fill. It is also likely that other book binders, those who offered fore-edge paintings, probably could not afford to have any artists on their regular payroll. Instead, they would have contracted with artists they knew, as needed, to paint their fore-edge offerings.
During the late eighteenth century and through the Regency, most of the paper used to print books was made from pulped rags. Therefore, this paper was sturdy and quite absorbent, an ideal surface on which to paint with watercolors. All fore-edge paintings from the Regency were executed with watercolor paints. However, fore-edge painters had to work with a small and fairly dry brush. They did not have the luxury of using broad washes of color, since more than the narrow edges of the fanned book leaves on which they were painting might absorb the excess fluid and color. In order to create a successful fore-edge painting, the painter had to be sure that all of the color remained only on the narrow strip along the edge of each leaf of the book when it was fanned and placed into the press. If the color bled beyond that narrow strip, in addition to being visible when the book was open, it would also be considered a blemish on the book. In addition, the fore-edges of the text blocks to be painted would have had to be smoothly cut when the book was prepared for binding. It would be impossible to execute a successful vanishing fore-edge painting on a rough or deckle-edge text block. Extremely thin, or very thick, paper would have been a challenge on which to execute a fore-edge painting. Ideally, the best fore-edge paintings were painted on the text block of books printed on a medium-weight, untreated paper, with a smoothly trimmed text block.
Even today, there are differences of opinion among fore-edge painters as to whether the painting should be done first, or the text block should be gilded or marbled first. Most artists today prefer to gild or marble the text block first, allowing the embellishment to dry and set before beginning the painting. However, there are a few fore-edge painters who prefer to finish the painting and allow it to fully dry before they apply the gilding or marbling. Gilding can be done essentially dry, since the process is to lay the thin sheets of gold leaf over the surface they are to cover and then burnished them until they are fully adhered. However, marbling requires that the edges of the text block be dipped into a liquid which supports the marble pattern of paint. Therefore, it seems most likely that fore-edge paintings for books which were to have their edges gilded could be safely gilded after the painting was complete. But those books which were to have the edges of the text block marbled were probably not painted until after the text block edges were marbled and the paint had fully dried. If the completed painting were to be touched by the moisture of the marbling process, the colors might run and spoil the painting.
Today, modern fore-edge painters sometimes paint more than one fore-edge painting on the same book, by fanning the leaves one way for the first painting and another way for the second painting. However, during the Regency, all of the books with fore-edge paintings which are known from that period had only one fore-edge painting. Typically, if the fore-edge painting was executed in landscape format, the book leaves would be fanned and placed in a press with the back of the book down. If the fore-edge was painted vertically, it was usually done with the back of the book to the right. Of course, there were always a few instances when the paintings were done with the text block fanned and held with the front cover on the bottom or to the right, but that is not common.
Though they would maintain their premises in Halifax, in the market square, well into the 1820s, the Edwards family opened a book shop in Pall Mall, in London, in the early 1790s. The available records suggest that Thomas Edwards was the manager of the Halifax shop until it closed in 1826. His brothers, James and Richard Edwards, were both responsible for managing the London shop at different times. Their patrons could commission the binding of books, with or without painted vellum covers, or the painting of the fore-edges of those books, from either the London or the Halifax shops. It does appear that most of the binding and painting work was done in the larger workrooms in Halifax. Then, for customers in London, the finished work would be sent to the London shop for the customer to collect. However, there are a number of notations in letters, journals and diaries from the last decades of the eighteenth century, right through the Regency, of people who made it a point to go to Halifax, if they were in West Yorkshire, simply to visit the Edwards book shop, which was located there. Many of these visitors were of the affluent upper classes in the eighteenth century, but, by the Regency, even many middle-class folks were eager to spend some time in the famous Edwards’ book shop. Most visitors also made a purchase while they were there, either for themselves or as a gift. The existing records suggests that Edwards’ Halifax book shop was a large and commodious place, with an ample stock, to meet the ongoing demand by book-loving shoppers from all over the country.
Not all Regency book sellers offered books with fore-edge paintings for sale. Typically, books with such paintings were more likely to be found in the more upscale shops in the larger cities and towns. The leading book shops in London would have been the best places to find books with fore-edge paintings, if one did not have a relationship with a book bindery who did such work. The topics of the books offered in various shops might also have had some influence on whether or not a specific book shop dealt with fore-edge paintings. For example, book shops which sold books on travel, history, art, architecture, gardening or design might offer many books with fore-edge paintings, since the subject matter of those books would easily lend themselves to that type of artistic embellishment. However, book shops which specialized in books on science, medicine, language or philosophy might offer few, if any books with fore-edge paintings, since such books were not thought compatible with that art form. Of course, any book owner who could afford it could have any book embellished with a fore-edge painting, regardless of the subject matter of the book on which it was painted.
When the Regency began, most books with fore-edge paintings were rare and very expensive. The majority of them were bespoke, often along with a fine binding, from the book owner’s preferred book binder. In some cases, a book collector might commission a book with a fore-edge painting through his favorite book seller. However, that book seller would typically have to contact a book binder who did such work in order to fulfill his customer’s request. Therefore, because of their rarity and high cost, books with fore-edge paintings were usually purchased only by the very affluent and most of those buyers were book collectors. As the Regency proceeded, more and more books with ready painted fore-edge paintings became available in the more upscale book shops in London and the larger cities and towns of Britain. Though they were not that much lower in cost than bespoke fore-edge painted books, the fact that they were readily available in book shops where customers could see them significantly improved sales. Where a middle-class person might not think to commission a book with a fore-edge painting, if they could see one which was done and ready for sale, they were more likely to consider making the purchase. It appears that the two books which less affluent people were most likely to purchase with a fore-edge painting were either the Book of Common Prayer or the Bible. Even people on a budget may have been able to justify such purchases due to the fact that those were holy books. However, it must be remembered that at that time, people were expected to bring their own prayer books to church services with them. So, to have a copy of the Book of Common Prayer with a painted vellum binding and/or a fore-edge painting was probably more a statement of that person’s desire for social status than of their piety.
Dear Regency Authors, now that you are aware of the existence of fore-edge paintings on books in our favorite decade, will you allow one or more of your characters in an upcoming romance to have one, or even to paint one? Might your heroine earn much needed money for herself, and/or the orphaned siblings for whom she cares, by working as a contract artist to a book binder in her area, painting the fore-edge paintings which are commissioned by their customers. Maybe she lives in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and does work for the large and famous Edwards firm, painting both transparent vellum bindings and fore-edges? Then again, mayhap the heroine, a confirmed bluestocking, is working for a wealthy family as their governess. What will happen when she borrows books on astronomy, physics or other serious sciences from the family’s library, and discovers that they all have erotic images painted on their fore-edges. Will those paintings have been commissioned by the hero, or maybe, unbeknownst to him, by his disreputable father? How will that misunderstanding play out in the story? Or, might the hero commission a very special fore-edge painting for a book intended as a gift to his beloved, the heroine. On what book will he have the fore-edge painted and what will be the subject of that secret painting? Are there other ways in which a fore-edge painting can help to illustrate a tale of romance during the Regency?
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Bennett, Jeanne. Hidden Treasures: The History and Technique of Fore-edge Painting. Calliope Press, 2012.
This is a lushly illustrated book, written by an American book crafts-woman, who has mastered most book-related arts, including fore-edge painting and book-binding. The first half of this book provides a concise history of fore-edge painting, while the second half provides basic instruction on how to paint the fore-edges of books.
Elliot, Samantha. "The Vanishing Art of Fore-edge Painting: The Work of Claire Brooksbank," pp 55-62. In Bookbinder: The Journal of the Society of Bookbinders. 2011.
This article is a profile of the British fore-edge painter, Claire Brooksbank, and how she came to take up the art. The article includes photos of some of her fore-edge paintings, as well as photos and an explanation of her technique.
Galbraith, Steven K. Edges of Books: Specimens of Edge Decoration from RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection. RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2012.
This small book covers more than just fore-edge paintings and is a beautifully illustrated catalog of a number of different treatments of book edges by artists and book binders. The text is brief, but there are many fine photographs of specific examples of these various book edge treatments.
Weber, Carl Jefferson. A Thousand and One Fore-edge Paintings. Waterville, Colby College Press, 1949.
This was the very first book ever written about fore-edge paintings. Professor Carl Weber was the Curator of Rare Books at Colby College in the middle of the last century. When a donation of books with fore-edge paintings was made to the college library, Professor Weber set out to do some research into the art form, only to find there was hardly any substantive information available. Therefore, he spent many summers travelling around the country, and even to Europe, to most of the libraries which had collections of fore-edge paintings, in order to learn what he could about them. This book is the compilation of his research. He was also able to photograph a few of these paintings and those black and white photographs are included in this book.
Weber, Carl Jefferson. Fore-edge Painting: A Historical Survey of a Curious Art in Book Decoration. Harvey House, 1966.
The publication of his first book on fore-edge paintings brought Professor Weber more and more information on the topic as people who knew about this special art form read that seminal book. Almost two decades later, he had accumulated so much additional information that he decided to write a second book. He was also able to include more photographs of fore-edge paintings. The colored photographs in this book are actually tipped-in, that is, were printed on higher quality paper, cut out and pasted into each copy of the book, a technique which was also in use during the Regency.
Weber, Jeff. Annotated Dictionary of Fore-edge Painting Artists & Binders [and] The Fore-edge Paintings of Miss C. B. Currie with a catalogue raisonné. Los Angeles, 2010.
Mr. Jeff Weber is the grandson of Professor Carl Weber and he has continued his grandfather’s study and research into fore-edge paintings. This the single most substantive book on fore-edge paintings since the two books by Carl Weber in the last century. It includes a comprehensive annotated dictionary of all known fore-edge painters and book binders. It is also lavishly illustrated with many color photographs of important fore-edge paintings.
Weber, Jeff. The Fore-edge Paintings of John T. Beer. Los Angeles, 2005.
This small book is dedicated to the fore-edge paintings executed by John T. Beer. A keen bibliophile as well as a talented artist, Beer painted scenes on the fore-edges of many of the books in his personal library, during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Though Beer was not a professional painter, he was extremely talented and his fore-edge paintings are very attractive. Many of them are illustrated in this book. In addition, the Prologue, The ABC’s of Fore-edge Painting, provides a concise history of this charming art form.
[Author’s Note: Jeff Weber is not only a notable scholar of fore-edge paintings, he is also a rare book seller who handles a great many books with fore-edge paintings. Those who are interested in acquiring a book or two with fore-edge paintings will find him an extremely reputable and knowledgeable dealer. His web site can be found here: https://www.weberrarebooks.com/]
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It is important to understand that during the Regency, in fact, right though the nineteenth century, only one fore-edge painting was usually painted on a single book. However, by the early twentieth century, some fore-edge painters began to paint multiple fore-edge paintings on the same book. One of the most talented, creative and prolific fore-edge painters of the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries is Martin Frost, whose studio is located in Worthing, West Sussex, in Britain. You can find his web site here: https://www.foredgefrost.co.uk/. On the home page of Mr. Frost’s site, you can get information on the various methods of including multiple fore-edge paintings on single book. That same page also has several videos which demonstrate how each type of fore-edge painting can be hidden and revealed. In addition, Mr. Frosts notes the names of other fore-edge painters who are working in Britain today. The Gallery page displays images of a selection of the different types of fore-edge paintings Mr. Frost has executed over the years. On the Gentlemen’s Relish page, you will find photos of some of the erotic fore-edge paintings which have been commissioned from Mr. Frost. Fair warning, some of those images are rather graphic.
One of the largest collections of fore-edge paintings in the United States is held by the Boston Public Library. Fortunately, that collection is available for viewing by anyone with an Internet connection. Some years ago, the BPL created a superior web site on which they posted high-resolution images of all of the more than 200 fore-edge paintings in their collection. As you might imagine, repeated flexing of the text block of a rare book can damage it over time. Therefore, the digital imaging studio at the BPL took high-resolution photographs of each of the fore-edge paintings while the book was flexed, under the supervision of the rare books librarian. Sadly, in recent years, the BPL has transferred all those images to another web site, with the loss of two very informative essays on the history and technique of fore-edge painting, by Anne Bromer and Martin Frost, which had been posted on the original site. Today, the images of the fore-edge paintings on books owned by the Boston Public Library can be found at two locations, Flickr, and Digital Commonwealth. Quite a few of the fore-edge paintings in this collection were painted during the Regency, so it is worth perusing one or the other of these sites. [For those of you who would like to view the original version of this wonderful web site, you can enter the URL: http://foreedge.bpl.org into the search box at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.]
The online art site, Colossal, has a couple of pages which are dedicated to fore-edge paintings. The page, A Centuries-Old Art Form . . . focuses on the work of Martin Frost, with several photos and videos of his fore-edge paintings. The page, The Secret Fore-Edge Paintings Revealed . . spotlights four of the fore-edge paintings in the Special Collections at the University of Iowa. The four books are Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer, all by Robert Mudie, which were published in 1837. This page provides both still and video images of the books and fore-edge paintings which adorn them.
For those of you who would like to get more information or see more images and videos of fore-edge paintings online, you can use keywords and phrases like "fore-edge paintings" or "fore-edge painted books" in your favorite search engines, to find more information and either images or videos of these delightful paintings.
If you enjoy browsing used book stores, there is something to keep in mind while you do so. Though there are several thousand books with fore-edge paintings known today, unknown fore-edge paintings still turn up from time to time. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to fan the leaves of any old book with a text block that has either gilt or marbled edges. You never know when you might bring to light a long-lost fore-edge painting.