Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, April 5, 1926
Easter Monday ‘26
What a letter,The whereabouts of this letter are unknown. dearest Mildred! One like that, even at long intervals, is better than the poussière de charité“Crumb of charity.” of short or frequent scribbles one gets from many people. I’m delighted to feel through it that you are well and getting strong.
The stone head is splendid, and I much like the animal in the round,Probably a bronze “unicorn” sculpture (Ex.Coll.HC.S.1925.03.[B]), registered by the Blisses as having Scythian influence and dating to the second century BCE. The sculpture reportedly was found near Sianfu (Shaanxi), China. The Blisses acquired the sculpture from the Parisian dealer C. T. Loo in November 1925 and resold it to Loo in 1934. the “Scythian” plaquetteProbably a bronze belt buckle set with winged horses (BZ.1926.4–5), acquired from C. T. Loo on November 11, 1925. Although the Blisses registered this as possibly Scythian and dating to the third or second century BCE, the buckle set is now thought to be from Inner Mongolia and to date to the first or second century CE. and the camel leader.An Asiatic gilt-bronze camel groom and camel (Ex.Coll.HC.S.1925.04.[B]), which the Blisses acquired from the Parisian dealer C. T. Loo in November 1925 and resold to Loo in 1934. I’m sending you photographs of two objects from the Szilágyy Somlyó find,The Szilágy Somlyó (Szilágysomlyó) treasure, consisting of an onyx fibula, ten pairs of fibulae decorated with gold and jewels, a swearing-in ring, and three gold bowls, was found in 1889 at what is now Şimleul Silvaniei, Romania. It is housed in the Hungarian National Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum), Budapest. An earlier discovery, in 1797, of a separate part of the buried Szilágy Somlyó treasure is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. and of the bronze inner-part of a Scythian mirror handle, which was probably once covered with gold. There’s something in the composition of the animal which reminds me very much of your gold lion from Vignier.
It will be magnificent if you come here this autumn. Only let it be after the middle of September, please, so that I may certainly be back from Geneva. In fact, to be safe, we’d better say not before the last week in Sept. We’ll also go together to Vienna, of course; I hope the Imperial carpets will still be on show as they are at present.The exhibition was at the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna. See also letter of September 28, 1926. The exhibition was the basis for Friedrich Sarre and Hermann Trenkwald, Alt-orientalische Teppiche, herausgegeben vom Österreichischen Museum für Kunst und Industrie (Vienna: A. Schroll, 1926), vol. 1. My God, what a display! I had seen several of them before, but I’d forgotten how gorgeous they are, and in what wonderful condition. The most extraordinary of the lot, though not the finest to my mind, is one about 20 ft. long, all silk, almost a velvet, covered with most elaborate and beautifully drawn hunting scenes, every sort of animal, and a border of winged angels holding a juerga, drinking and playing on musical instruments. It is in absolutely flawless condition, and was a present from Shah Abbas to Rudolf II.Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, T 8336. The Vienna “hunting carpet” measures 331 x 687 cm. It was formerly in the Imperial Collection (now Kunsthistorisches Museum), Vienna, reportedly a gift of Czar Peter the Great of Russia to Leopold I of Austria in 1698. See Angela Völker, Die orientalischen Knüpfteppiche im MAK: Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Wien (Vienna: Böhlau, 2001), 198–203, no. 70. See also letter of April 29, 1928.
Besides the Nat. Museum here,The Hungarian National Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum) in Budapest, established in the early nineteenth century and housed in a neoclassical building completed in 1847. It is the fourth largest museum in Europe, and its exhibitions focus on the history of Hungary (archaeology, medieval history, modern history, numismatics, and historic paintings). Among its treasures are the Hungarian Holy Crown and the coronation jewels. which is the plum, there are the picture Gallery,The Museum of Fine Arts (Szépmûvészeti Múzeum) in Budapest holds collections of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities as well as approximately three thousand European paintings from 1300 to 1800 exhibited in the Old Picture Gallery. containing a lot of good things such as a big VermeerProbably Portrait of a Woman (82 x 65 cm) (inv. no. 316), then attributed to Johannes Vermeer and now attributed to Gerrit Dou. and a superb Giorgione,Probably Giorgione’s Portrait of a Young Man (inv. no. 94). and quantities of Dutchmen whose names I’ve never heard before for the most part, but who are very good—the Eszterházy coll.The core of the Old Picture Gallery collection was formed by the Eszterházy family which brought it to Budapest from Vienna in 1865. Then consisting of 637 paintings, 3,500 drawings, and 51,000 prints, the collection was bought by the Hungarian State in 1871 as part of the Museum of Fine Arts that was founded in 1896 and inaugurated in 1906. formed in the Low Countries, I think early in the XVIIIth. Then, outside, those in the private collection of the King of the Jews, Baron Herzog,Baron Mór Lipót (Maurice or Moritz Leopold) Herzog (1869–1934) assembled in Budapest an art collection that included paintings by Courbet, Cranach, El Greco, and Van Dyck. The collection was confiscated in the last days of the Second World War on the orders of Nazi S.S. commander Adolf Eichmann. See László Mravik, “‘Princes, Counts, Idlers, and Bourgeois’: A Hundred Years of Hungarian Collecting,” Modern Hungarian Painting, ed. Tamás Kieselbach (Budapest: Tamás Kieselbach, 2003): 16–20. who has 8 or 9 Grecos, among them the stupendous Mount of Olives,El Greco’s Agony in the Garden (Christ on the Mount of Olives), originally from the Cathedral of Siguenza, now in the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts (inv. no. 51.2827). and Goyas, and modern French pictures. There is also his nephew Baron Hatvany,Baron Ferenc Hatvany (1881–1958), a Hungarian painter and art collector whose collection included paintings by , , , , and , most notably and . Between 1905 and 1942, he collected some 750 works of art, mainly nineteenth-century French paintings. Toward the end of the , his collection was looted by Soviet troops, and many of his paintings are now in Budapest, Moscow, and Nizhny Novgorod. See László Mravik, “Hungary’s Pillaged Art Heritage. Part Two: The Fate of the Hatvany Collection,” Hungarian Quarterly 39, no. 150 (Summer 1998): 53–78. very good modern French and a wonderful rug.It is difficult to identify the “wonderful rug” that Royall Tyler mentions. It could be one of the following: “Holbein carpet, Bokhara carpet, carpet with animal figures, large Damascus carpet, or red-coloured Anatolian ‘jordes’ prayer rug,” as listed in “” in 1942. A fragment (191 x 211 cm) of a Safavid Persian sixteenth-century “Paradise Park” animal carpet, the present location of which is unknown, was considered the most valuable piece in the collection. László Mravik, “Hungary’s Pillaged Art Heritage. Part Two: The Fate of the Hatvany Collection,” Hungarian Quarterly 39, no. 150 (Summer 1998): 53. See Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, from Prehistoric Times to the Present (London: Oxford University Press, 1939), 6: pl. 1141. We’d manage to fill our time.
By the way, one of the Hebrews here told me with immense relish that not long ago he gave letters of introduction to two friends of his, let us say Baron Schossberger and Baron Kornfeld, who were journeying to Spain: (a) to Alphonse Kann in Paris,Alphonse Kann (–), a prominent art collector of heritage. and (b) to the Duke of Alba.Don Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó, 17th Duke of Alba (1878–1953), Spanish ambassador to Britain between 1939 and 1945. Soon after, my Hebrew, being in Paris, met both Alba and Kann. Alba thanked him effusively for sending him two such delightful and typical Hungarian nobles; Kann said “if ever again you send me such a pair of Saujüden“Jewish swine.” as those two, I’ll turn ’em out of doors.”
Let me give you, by way of a preliminary lesson in Hungarian, this little rhyme, which is not infrequently chanted here in the streets, and which illustrates the Hungarian trick of writing poetry without verbs;
Erger, Berger, Schossberger,
(every) (jew) (rascal)
Minden Zsidó Gazember;
(whether) (little) (whether) (big)
Akar kicsi, akar nagy
(bread his) (bread his) (cheating)
kényeré, kényeré [sic], megcsalás.The names Erger, Berger, Schossberger (or Sósberger)—typical Jewish surnames in Hungary—begin the several versions of this Hungarian anti-Semitic song which blames the Jews for the problems of the day. Another version: Erger-berger sós berger / Minden zsidó gazember / Akár bankár, akár más / Kenyere kenyere a csalás (Erger-berger salt-berger / All Jews are villains / Whether a banker or other / Bread bread fraud).
Cs = English ch; s = SH; zs = j (in French). Gy at the end of a word is somewhat like dg in the English nudge. The tonic accent is always on the first syllable, though quite gently.
Well, well, they may say what they like about the Zsidók;Jews. the Zsidók are getting back, slowly and surely, and they shall inherit most of what’s worth having in this country, sooner or later. You can’t down ‘em except by working as hard as they do, and the Hunk is not prepared to go to such heights.
Do you remember how CamondoCount Moïse de Camondo (1860–1935), a French banker and art collector. He was born into a Sephardic Jewish family that owned one of the largest banks in the Ottoman Empire. He donated his home, with its art and antique furnishing collections, to the Paris Decorative Arts Society as the Musée Nissim de Camondo, in honor of the loss of his only son in the First World War. The museum was opened in 1936, one year after his death. answered Napoleon III who had wished to requite Camondo’s services by the grant of a title? He said that he, for himself, would take nothing—his Majesty’s appreciation was in itself worth more than any title. But if his Majesty insisted, he would admit that he had a poor old grandfather in Constantinople, who often had difficulties with the Turks, and a French title would be of immense value to him.—The old Constantinopolitan got the title, and soon after when Camondo inherited he got it with the quarterings, and was the third Count.Royall Tyler’s account of the Camondo title is incorrect. Moïse de Camondo’s grandfather, Count Abraham Camondo (1781–1873), was a Jewish banker, financier, and philanthropist living in Istanbul but with Italian citizenship. In 1832, he had inherited a fortune from his brother Isaac (who died without children). Camondo had presented large gifts to several Italian philanthropic institutions, in recognition of which King Victor Emmanuel conferred upon him the title of count, with the privilege of transmitting it in perpetuity to the eldest son of the family.
It’s nice to think that your picture will be a neighbor at Dijon.The painting referred to is unknown. Robert Woods Bliss had been in Dijon before November 23, 1926, when he wrote Lawrence Grant White: “While in Paris, I went to a little old chateau near Dijon (which is now a basse-cour) where I found a Renaissance Polycrome [sic] ceiling, which I think is fine and interesting. Unfortunately it is too small for the music-room, but there are some smaller rooms in the house, which also contain beamed ceilings to match the larger one I saw.” Mercier’sCardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier (1851–1926), archbishop of Mechelen and effectively Belgium’s resistance leader during the First World War with the absence of the Belgian King Albert I and his government. Between 1921 and his death in 1926, Mercier engaged in formal interchurch conversations with Anglican theologians in an ecumenical effort to reconcile and unite Anglicans and Catholics. For Royall Tyler’s and Mildred Barnes Bliss’s interest in this topic, see The Early Letters (1902–1908). See also Frederick M. Bliss, Catholic and Ecumenical: History and Hope, Why the Catholic Church is Ecumenical and What She is Doing About It (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), 31–34. rayonnement is widening. I’ve never come across him. I wonder whether there’s any thing in his theories. At Vienna—and also in some respectable quarters in Paris—he is not taken seriously.
Our book on Byzantine has just appeared, and I am sending you a copy herewith. You may well say it’s a trifling affair to have taken such a time to produce. We entirely agree. However, you may find it amusing in parts—and our identification of the Romanus ivory with Rom. II instead of IV is a really important contribution, and disposes of the chief piece of evidence for regarding Byzantine art as stagnant.The ivory of Romanos II and Eudokia is in the collection of the Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. For the early acceptance of Peirce and Tyler’s redating of this ivory, see Eric Maclagan, “Review: An Anthology of Byzantine Art,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 50, no. 289 (April 1927): 217.
The Burlington people have put off producing their volume on Spain until the end of the year.Spanish Art, An Introductory Review of Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Textiles, Ceramic, Woodwork, Metalwork, Burlington Magazine Monograph 2 (London: B. T. Batsford, 1927). Royall Tyler authored the chapter on architecture. As in the case of the Byz. book, the other contributors have failed to come up to time. The fact is that one has to have far more work to do than one can manage in order ever to deliver any part of the goods. These whole-time archaeologists never manage to accoucher.“Give birth, deliver.”
I had planned to go to Paris in April, and to Antigny, but of course these affairs made it impossible. So Bill is coming to Trieste to meet me for a few days’ run down the Dalmatian coast. I don’t want to lose touch with him for a single holiday. I hope he may catch you in Paris on his way from Antigny to Harrow at the beginning of May. Elisina’s at Antigny.
Do try to carry out the plan for a visit to Budapest this autumn, and I’ll tell you many a pretty story.
Thank Robert for yielding about the address—which I find most instructive.The address referred to is unknown.
With much love to you both