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Maker(s):Honeywell, Martha Ann
Culture:American (1787-1856)
Title:cutwork "The Endless Knot"
Date Made:ca. 1840
Type:Household Accessory
Materials:paper; ink
Place Made:United States; Eastern Atlantic Coast
Measurements:Frame: 7 x 8 1/4 x 5/8 in; 17.8 x 21 x 1.6 cm; Sheet: 5 1/8 x 6 1/8 in; 13 x 15.6 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2011.25.1
Credit Line:Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Minor Antiques
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Cutwork picture in a design known as "The Endless Knot" made by Martha Ann Honeywell (1787-1856). Honeywell was known as an “extraordinary phenomenon” – throughout the United States and Europe as much for her accomplishments in embroidery, miniature writing, and paper cutting as for her body, which lacked hands and had only three toes on one foot. Born in Westchester, New York, in 1787, her career options were severely limited, but Honeywell was able to turn her debilitating qualities into tools for economic and social success as an accomplished visual and performance artist. At the young age of 11, Honeywell began to exhibit herself and performed sewing and ate food at the Museum of Gardiner Baker in New York City. By 1806, she began a life of itinerancy, making use of the rapidly expanding transportation network of turnpikes, canals, and after 1828, railroads. Honeywell toured from New England to South Carolina and Kentucky as well as Ireland, England, France, and Canada over her 50-year career. Throughout her career she produced a variety of visual arts including embroidery, tambouring, waxwork, ink drawing, miniature writing, and cloth and paper cutting. She usually sold her works for between 25 and 50 cents, in addition to her standard admission fee of 25 cents. This example of a cutwork paper Endless Knot, which is one of her largest works and her only known example of an Endless Knot, has been further ornamented by being sewn down onto a paper backing with a yellow feather edge ground and then pasted to plain white paper. She then inscribed the knot in ink as well as pricked it. The inscription reads: “In Jesus Christ the Gospel Faith hath broke the cords of sin and death. If thou a true believer be the knot of death is broke for thee and Christ but freeth thee from strife shall give thee everlasting life which life if thou consider well avoid the path that leads to Hell – man behold and then shall see how manifold thy evils be thy flesh without heart within is wrapt about useless sin & sin hath made an endless knot with death and shall faileth not and justice ceaseth not to say the soul sinneth it shall die & now. Man lament thy fate. Nor let repentance come too late.”

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