Allegory of the Purity, ca. 1850, Italy, Frame could be English, sardonyx shell, 2 ¾" by just over 2 3/8", Depicting the Allegory of the Purity, a young maiden holding a dove, which is the symbol of the purity. There is an engraving on the frame, it reads Margt Emily Mather, maybe Margt stays for Margot. To write it the frame was cut and then replaced in its own place.
For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Lœda, Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader. Search narrowly the lines!
they hold a treasure Divine
— a talisman
an amulet That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure
— The words
— the syllables! Do not forget The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor! And yet there is in this no Gordian knot Which one might not undo without a sabre, If one could merely comprehend the plot. Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing Of poets, by poets
— as the name is a poet’s, too. Its letters, although naturally lying Like the knight Pinto
Mendez Ferdinando — Still form a synonym for Truth. Cease trying! You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.
Edgar Allan Poe.
Twins of Lœda: In Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux were twins born of Leda and fathered by Zeus, who disguised himself as a swan and seduced her. The twins are also the two brightest stars in Gemini constellation.
Gordian Knot: A legend where Alexander the Great tried to untie a complicated knot and when he couldn’t solve the puzzle, sliced it in half with his sword.
Mendez Ferdinando: Fernão Mendes Pinto was a Portuguese explorer born in 1509. The stories he wrote of his life were so unusual and exaggerated that they were not believed.