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Fore-edge painting exhibit to be held at Loyola-Notre Dame Library

| By Rita Buettner
Fore-edge painted book

A rare collection of fore-edge paintings will be on display from Dec. 7–Jan. 31, 2018, in the Loyola-Notre Dame Library. The exhibit, which will feature works from the Library’s Marion and Henry J. Knott Fore-Edge Painting Collection, is free and open to the public.

A fore-edge painting is typically created in watercolors on the fore-edge of a book while it is fanned out so that the paining is not visible when the book is closed. When the book is open, however, the painting appears along the page edges. The art form seems to have originated in England during the 17th century.

This exhibit is being curated by students taking Art History 406: Museums: History, Politics, Practices, a course taught by Kerry Boeye, Ph.D., associate professor of fine arts in conjunction with Loyola-Notre Dame Library’s Archives & Special Collections Department. The exhibit occurs as a conclusion to a two-year program of citywide events organized by Book Arts Baltimore.

“This is one of the largest collections of fore-edge paintings in the country,” said Anna Clarkson, Head of Archives & Special Collections. “This event marks a very special opportunity to see a stellar collection that is rarely exhibited to the general public due to the fragility of the collection and the complexity in displaying such intricate objects in a safe manner. We are grateful for the assistance of the Johns Hopkins Department of Conservation and Preservation who are designing and constructing custom-made mounts, as well as conducting scientific research on the collection.”

The Marion and Henry J. Knott Fore-edge Painting Collection consists of more than 300 volumes dating from the 16th–20th century with the bulk of the collection dating to the 19th century.

“The relative lack of published research on fore-edge painting has challenged the students, but has also led them to exciting discoveries while studying the books for the exhibition,” Boeye said.

Rosie Waniak, ’18, was not aware that fore-edge painting existed as an art form until she enrolled in the course.

“I decided to take this course because I'm interested in pursuing a career in museums, and I felt like this class could provide a lot of insight into the thoughts and ideas that drive these institutions,” said Waniak, a South Brunswick, N.J., resident who is majoring in art history and English. “I love the hands-on and critical-thinking elements of the course. The final project of creating a display is especially interesting, because it is a unique challenge that demands a synthesis of everything we are studying throughout the semester.

The Loyola-Notre Dame Library also celebrates its 50th anniversary on Dec. 7.

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