Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, undated  (Winter 1923)
I was delighted to hear of Robert’s appointment to Sweden—it will mean your coming at last, though I understand not until in the Spring.Robert Woods Bliss was appointed U.S. envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Sweden on January 30, 1923. He assumed the post on August 8, 1923.
I have had a thorough year of it since I last wrote to you, a lot of hard work here, with trips to Berlin, Vienna and Budapest—on business,Between 1920 and 1924, Royall Tyler was a member of the United States delegation to the Commission des réparations des obligations de l’Allemagne (Reparation Commission). This was an international commission established at the Paris Peace Conference (1919) by the Allied governments to consider the issue of war reparations from defeated Germany and the central powers. and Geneva and London on pleasure. Salter, whom you perhaps remember, left the Rep. Com.Reparation Commission; this was an international commission established at the Paris Peace Conference (1919) by the Allied governments to consider the issue of war reparations from defeated Germany and the central powers. Between 1920 and 1922, Salter served as secretary-general to the commission. on June 30th to become Director of the Financial and Economic SectionThe League of Nations established an Economic and Financial Organisation that comprised several committees: Financial, Economic, Fiscal, and Statistical. Arthur Salter served as the permanent director of the Economic and Financial Organisation between 1922 and 1931. of the League of Nations, and has been hard at it ever since on the Austrian question,The Austrian Question involved the sovereignty and the boundaries of Austria and its reconstruction, which was first brought before the council of the League of Nations on August 25, 1922. See Alfred D. Low, The Anschluss Movement, 1918–1919, and the Paris Peace Conference (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974), 397–411. with conspicuous success so far. I spent a few days with him at Geneva in August and was very much interested in comparing the organization of the only other big international body with our own. They have some first rate people at the League Secretariat,The League of Nations Permanent Secretariat comprised a body of experts in various areas under the direction of the general secretary. Its principal sections were: Political, Financial and Economics, Transit, Minorities and Administration (administering the Saar and Danzig), Mandates, Disarmament, Health, Social (Opium and Traffic in Women and Children), Intellectual Cooperation, and International Bureaux, Legal, and Information. and though MonnetJean Monnet (1888–1979) was named deputy secretary general of the upon its creation in 1919 by French premier and British statesman . He became disillusioned with the league because of its laborious decision-making processes and resigned in December 1922. will prove a very great loss they are steadily recruiting good people—some of them come from us and we’ve let them go with deep regret. There’s a young French economist called QuesnayPierre Quesnay (1895–1937) became head of the Economic Analysis Department of the Bank of France in 1926–1929 and general manager of the Bank for International Settlements in 1930–1937. who will go very far if I’m not altogether mistaken, and who is now Zimmermann’s [sic]Alfred R. Zimmerman (1869–1939), former mayor of Rotterdam, was appointed Holland’s representative to the League of Nations in 1922 and the League of Nation’s commissioner general of Austrian Finances from 1922 to 1926. right hand in the difficult job at Vienna.
I offered myself the spectacle of General Elections in England—the first time I’d been there since just before the war. I was immensely impressed with the quiet power of London, the way it has adapted itself to post-war conditions, sternly making the sacrifices necessary in order to stabilize currency and balance the budget and calmly reaping the fruits of such courage in the recapture of the money market, which is back in London now after its trip to N.Y. and back to stay, I should think.
Election evening I dined with a member of the Russo-Asiatic board and Krassin’s [sic]Leonid Krasin (1870–1926), a Russian and a Soviet Bolshevik politician and diplomat. He was the people’s commisar of foreign trade between 1920 and 1924, and in this capacity, he negotiated the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement of March 1921. London agent, a curious Bolschevik, as you will see. He afterwards proposed that we should go to his hotel—one of the huge ones in Northumberland Ave.—and see the Election results announced. We went there, and on entering the place heard a servant read out three Conservative victories. My Bolschevik applauds. Next comes a Labour victory. No applause from the Bolo. Then a Conservative success, hailed with rapture by the Bolo. I asked if he was pleased at the prospect of Conservative success because the further right it went this time the further left it would probably go next. “Not at all”, says he; “you see, what we want in Russia is capital, and if there’s a Conservative Govt. we will probably get it, while if these Labourites got in, the City of London would be frightened and we wouldn’t get anything.”
I saw a lot of people in London, several of the new Cabinet, and immensely enjoyed myself. The Museums are on rather short commons, and haven’t done as well in the way of acquisitions as the French ones, I should think, but they have had a few pieces of luck, like the purchase for £100 of one of the plaques from the crown of Constantine Monomachos which belongs to the Nat. Museum at Budapest.Plaque with a Dancing Girl, Byzantine, mid-eleventh century, gold and cloisonné enamel, 10.6 x 5.0 x 0.2 cm, acquired in 1921 by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, M.325-1921. See H. P. Mitchell, “A Dancing-Girl in Byzantine Enamel,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 40, no. 227 (February 1922): 64–69. For a discussion of the discovery and authenticity of the Budapest crown, see David Buckton, “Byzantine Enamels in the Twentieth Century,” in Byzantine Style, Religion, and Civilization: In Honour of Sir Steven Runciman, ed. Elizabeth M. Jeffreys (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 31–33. But for that one plaque the crown is complete, and the missing one was probably stolen by a workman when the whole thing was found some 60 years ago or more. It represents a dancer with a garland of flowers in an attitude of skipping-rope, Byzantine XIth cent. A pretty snorting object, my dear. I was at Budapest not long ago, and told Banffy, Minister of For. Aff.Count Miklós Bánffy de Losoncz (1873–1950), a Hungarian nobleman, politician, and novelist. He became foreign minister of Hungary in 1921. about it, and he was very angry indeed—so much so that though he had the Nat. Mus., which is being rebuilt, opened for me, I failed altogether to get a look at the Crown, which everyone said was locked up in a safe of which the key had been mislaid. I believe Banffy, who is a great antiquarian, suspected me of intending to grab the Crown as a Reparation payment.
Speaking of enamel, I succeeded this autumn in examining the celebrated reliquary of the Holy Cross at Poitiers,Byzantine (Constantinople) gold and cloisonné enamel reliquary of the True Cross. Emperor Justin II (ca. 520–578, reigned 565–578) sent this reliquary to Radegonde, a Frankish princess and nun, in Poitiers in 569. See Martin Conway, “St. Radegund’s Reliquary at Poitiers,” Antiquaries Journal 3 (1923): 1–12. Some suggest a post-1204 date and believe that it replaced the original sixth-century reliquary. See David Buxton, “Byzantine Enamels in the Twentieth Century,” in Byzantine Style, Religion and Civilization: In Honour of Sir Steven Runciman, ed. Elizabeth Jeffreys (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 29–31. which was sent by JustinianJustinian I (ca. 482–565), Byzantine emperor between 527 and 565. However, some believe that the reliquary was sent by Emperor Justin II (ca. 520–578, reigned 565–578). A post-1204 date has also been suggested for the extant reliquary, which replaced the sixth-century original. See David Buxton, “Byzantine Enamels in the Twentieth Century,” in Byzantine Style, Religion and Civilization: In Honour of Sir Steven Runciman, ed. Elizabeth Jeffreys (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 29–31. to Ste. RadegondeRadegonde (ca. 520–586), a sixth-century Frankish princess and nun who founded the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers. She was canonized in the ninth century. at Poitiers and for the reception of which Venantius Fortunatus wrote the Hymn “Vexilla regis prodeunt.”Venantius Fortunatus (530–609), the bishop of Poitiers who composed the “Vexilla Regis Prodeunt” (“The Standards of the King Go Forth”) on the occasion of the transfer of a relic of the True Cross to Poitiers. It is the most beautiful piece of enamel I’ve ever seen, and exceedingly jealously guarded in the convent founded by Radegonde—it is almost certainly the work of the atelier that turned out the celebrated pala of St. Sophia, which was smashed and looted by the Crusaders.Some believe that the gold and cloisonné enamels of the altar frontal cloth of the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul) were looted by the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade of 1204 and subsequently reused in the upper third of the Pala d’Oro, now the high altar (retable) of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice.
It’s good to think of you coming soon, dear Mildred.