With a fore-edge painting the illustration is executed in the small margin just inside the edge. After the painting has been completed, many of these books have gilt applied to the edge. When the pages of a book thus prepared are fanned, the painting becomes visible. Although fore-edge paintings can be found on manuscripts dating back to the 13th century, the art became popular in the 17th century, and is still being widely practiced today by artists working on 18th and 19th century books in the old styles.
The image shows a fore-edge painting of Roman ruins in a portrait orientation, being taller than it is wide. Perhaps a modern fore-edge painting, which includes human figures dressed in eighteenth-century style clothing, the book was issued in the second half of the nineteenth century having been written and illustrated by two English travelers who were well familiar with the Italy and Rome of their time.