Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, September 5, 1923
I’ve a piece of news for you, dearest Mildred: —We’ve bought Antigny,The Tylers first saw Antigny-le-Château in 1913. See letters of December 1, 1913, and October 22, 1916. and have paid for it, all dues etc. included, less than $3000.About $38,000 in 2009 dollars. There are over five hectares of ground, and just after we had got it a marchand de biens“Real estate agent.” offered Elisina a profit on it. We shall proceed gradually with work on the place, and Elisina has got local workmen on the job now who are not at all expensive and appear to be quite competent. We have an architect keeping an eye on them, so that we may pull them up at any moment if they wander. Elisina’s eye is also on them.
The chapel and the round tower have been classé monuments historiques,“Classified historical monuments,” the state procedure in France by which national heritage protection is extended to a building, a specific part of a building, a collection of buildings, or a garden, bridge, or other structure because of its importance to France’s architectural and historical cultural heritage. and the M. H.“Monuments historiques.” Service has voted the money to carry out the essential repairs on both buildings, so that is rather a load off our shoulders. Elisina is in transports of delight over it all, and I am very happy indeed to have the place, which has haunted us now for ten years.See letter of December 1, 1913. The Tylers previously made an offer on the property that was rejected by the owner. In 1923, the property was sold at auction to an agent acting on the Tylers’ behalf. It is near enough to Paris to make it worth while going there for a long week-end, and far enough to provide a real change of climate and of scene generally, as you know, and the country side is quite unspoilt in that region. We are already planning a little suite for you and Robert, where we trust you will be very snug. I do hope you’ll be able to run down for a glance at it next spring—by then a certain amount of work will have been done. We hope to be able to go there for a few days at the Toussaint.All Saints’ Day, November 1.
There are the remains of a charming garden on the side of the house away from the court-yard, on terraces, with two biggish stone pools, one of which can serve as a swimming pool for me—and the other for ducks. Both are fed by a noble spring over which the round tower is built. I think the place, in an amusing little way, will be delightful and a very moderate charge—less in fact than taking holidays at hotels, as prices run nowadays.
The papers this morning had the tragic news that poor Demotte had been killed in a shooting accident—another dealer, named Wegener, was shooting with Demotte, dropped his gun, which went off, Demotte receiving the entire charge and being instantly killed.See Meryle Secrest, Duveen: A Life in Art (New York: Knopf, distributed by Random House, 2004), 222–23: “. . . Otto Wegener, a Parisian antique dealer, had a château, the Parc du Petit-Jean, in Chaumont-sur-Tharonne, not far from Blois. On Monday, September 3, the house party gathered in the extensive grounds of the château for the first day’s shoot. . . . The official report reads, ‘After lunch, as several hunters and beaters remained in the room, Wegener left, carrying in his arms the gun he had deposited in the dining room during lunch. When one of his assistants asked him whether his gun was recharged, Wegener replied in the affirmative, and in order to convince those present, lifted the gun in the air and pulled the trigger. The gun fired and then recoiled, flying out of Wegener’s hands. It fell to the ground and the impact set off a second shot. Demotte was hit in the chest and died a few minutes later.’”
It’s very sad, particularly as he was coming triumphantly out of the Vigouroux affair. Vigouroux appealed against the jurisdiction of the Correctionnelle when proceedings had gone very badly for him. His appeal was admitted and the case sent to the Cour d’Assises, but Vigouroux was arrested in court and only released on bail of 80,000 francs.For this complicated affair, see Meryle Secrest, Duveen: A Life in Art (New York: Knopf, distributed by Random House, 2004), 211–18.
Elisina sends you much love and looks forward to taking you to Antigny. We both very vividly remember the former occasion when you and we were there.In October 1916. See letters of October 22, 1916, and September 10, 1923. Love to Robert.