Folk Art

Antique American Watercolor Love Knot, Love Puzzle from Pennsylvania
  • Offered is a wonderful 19th century American love knot or valentine, likely from Pennsylvania. This watercolor and ink love puzzle is on wove paper and is densely inscribed with verse, some identifiable by me and some may be written from the heart of the artist/lover. As best I can read, the inscriptions say the following—words in brackets are my notes, question marks within brackets indicate that the writing is not legible and I’m making my best educated guess. The use of the long s (which looks like an f) indicates a date prior to 1835.

    The central knot:

    A true Lovers Knot to thee my dear [I send] An Emblem of my Love without an end Crofsing twining [possibly “turning”] winding in and out Never ceasing turning round about And as thou [thee] see it, links and Crofses here so hath thy Beauty prov'd to me a Snare for by the Influence of true Love I find I am bereaved bothe of Heart and mind So fairest creature look with pity down And do not on thy faith-ful Lover frown But pardon him who doth thy Love desire And delight they beauty to admire, None ____ so dear then let thy goodnefs shine In beams of comfort from a face like thine that so my revisited [?] soul raise by the smile May ___fs [long s] to blefs forget-ting of its tails that true Love may always be in action. And evermore be tending to perfection so when that ____ in this knot of love shall be disdained when we so firmly move In soft embraces in each others arms To guard each other from all future Harms

    Text inside hearts paraphrased from "To one that asked me why I loved J.G.” by Ephelia 17th century:

    When first I saw the[e] thou didst sweety [sic] play /The gentle thief and / stole my Heart away" Ronde[?] / be mine again or / take they own, Two are / too much for thee since / I have none" "Why / do I love you ask[{?] / the glorious sun, / Why every day be round / the worlds doth [run?] Ask Thames / and Typbe[r] why they ebb and flow [Ask ice and hail] why they are cold _____________" "Ask damask roses / why in June they blow / Decaying beauty's why / old do grow / They'll tell thee fate that everrything doth move Whick [?] draweth peace / and Harmony to Love"

    Upper left corner medallions:

    "They Heart I Crave" "I will say thou art" "My Heart Thou Hast" "And if she wins I'll surely pay my debt But if she loves I'll surely claim my _____"

    Upper right corner medallions:

    Confined [?]" "of fair faced Creature" "Without Thy Heart" For thy direction A begins thou ____ find & ends be there fore___ start in thy ___ mind"

    Lower left corner medallions:

    "Behind[?]" "If thou dost refuse me" "My Heart thou Hast" “There I dare venture with my Love a pot Tea half an hour she ____ not my Knot"

    Lower right corner medallions:

    "I Must Depart" "With _______" "And leave all Heart" "When Lovers meet what grief it is to part. When twixt [?] two Lovers ___ but on Heard[?]?"

    Condition is very good with light creasing, some discoloration, especially to upper and lower hearts, light staining and some fading to parts of the iron gall ink inscription. It is attached to an archival mat board on the reverse with two Japanese rice paper hinges at top. While the frame is not period, it is a very nice, appropriate paint decorated frame with corner blocks that measures 16 ¾” x 15 ½”. From a Pennsylvania collection, this great piece of folk art is circa 1820.

    (#5499)      $3200