One of Only Ten Copies With an Original Watercolor and a Fore-Edge Painting
[FORE-EDGE PAINTING] ADAMS, Richard. LAWRENCE, John, artist. NOBLE, Don, fore-edge painter. Watership Down. Illustrated by John Lawrence. London: Penguin Books / Kestrel Books, 1976. First edition with illustrations by John Lawrence. Octavo (9 1/8 x 6 inches; 232 x 153 mm). Specially bound edition limited to 250 copies, of which this is number 245 (this being one of only ten copies with a fine fore-edge painting signed at the bottom right "Noble") and with a fine two-page watercolor by John Lawrence, with his initials at the lower center. Additionally this copy is signed by John Lawrence on the frontispiece and by Richard Adams on the verso of the title-page. Full green morocco, front cover and spine decorated in gilt, spine decorated in gilt in compartments, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. A fine copy housed in the original matching marbled board slipcase.
This fore-dege painting was one of 10 specially commissioned for Chas. J. Sawyer in 1976 by Don Noble - a contemporary of Martin Frost, the most prolific fore-edge painter of modern timesÖ
"Frost trained in theatre design. He then worked for a local opera house, the BBC, and in graphics. He eventually met and became friends with Don Noble, a man who had 20 years experience in creating fore-edge paintings. Noble taught Frost about fore-edge paintings and Frost went on to create a "small number" of paintings. However, around 1980, Frost "won a commission for a quantity of book paintings from an antiquarian book dealer." It was then that Frost decided to paint fore-edges full time and has since created over 3,000 fore-edge paintings and "portrait miniatures for Cosway-style bindings." (Jennie Stramiello, Fore-Edge Paintings).
A Fore-Edge Painting is a scene painted on the edges of a book whilst it is fanned open in a special clamp to allow the artist to do the painting - and then, when the book is closed the fore-edge painting disappears under the gilt.
The mystery of a disappearing art formÖ
There is little known about fore-edge paintings, however, they are part of a much larger topic: books. So many things go into creating a book, it is far more involved than an author just telling a story. There have been many bookbinders, publishers, illustrators or painters and book collectors who have helped to shape the history of both books and fore-edge paintings. So why have these precious pieces of art virtually vanished from society? Why do people not know about fore-edge paintings anymore?
The earliest known disappearing fore-edge painting dates from 1649. The earliest known signed and dated fore-edge painting dates back to 1653 - a family coat of arms painted on a 1651 BibleÖ
(To order this item, or for more information, please call 818-222-4103)