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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, July 10, 1931

10.VII.31Friday.

Dearest Mildred,

Your cableSee telegram of July 8, 1931 [2]. reached me yesterday, asking for photos of Byz. objects from the Show, and I have immediately asked Giraudon,Adolphe and Georges Giraudon founded a photographic library in 1877 in Paris that specialized in photographic reproductions for “artists and scholars.” See Monique Le Pelley Fonteny, Adolphe et Georges Giraudon, une bibliothèque photographique (Paris: Somogy, 2005). to print a long list, over 100, including the best things. I’m pressing him to go ahead, but I can’t yet tell when they’ll be ready, as Diehl,Charles Diehl (1859–1944), a French historian and authority on Byzantine art and history. Millet,Gabriel Millet (1867–1953), a French Byzantine art historian and professor at the Collège de France. the Germans etc etc have all put in big orders and Giraudon isn’t equipped for such production. I’ve therefore asked him to send you 30 or 40 as soon as they’re ready, so that you may get on with them—the rest to follow. The Show closed yesterday in a blaze of glory; most of the Byzantinists of Europe there and great enthusiasm. Immodest though it may sound, Hayford and I have very little to learn from them. The Germans, on the whole, have been very disappointing: their theories as to date, place etc seem to me to be built, very often, on the flimsiest of bases, while the really significant things about a work of art escape them. At the same time, their diligence and attention to detail make a huge impression on the French—not undeservedly—and there have been moments when they (the Germans) seemed to hold sway here altogether; but not for long, and some day I’ll tell you endless stories about it. Personally, I’d rather take the judgment of Jacques Guérin who has no special knowledge of Byzantine, on any point of authority, but who has perceptions, than that of DelbrueckRichard Delbrück (1875–1957), a German classical archaeologist with a specialty in the art of late antiquity. + GoldschmidtAdolph Goldschmidt (1863–1944), a medievalist art historian and teacher. + BerlinerRudolf Berliner (1886–1967), a German art historian who specialized in Early Christian, Byzantine, Islamic, and early Nordic art and textiles and was a curator at the Bavarian National Museum. + RankPossibly Otto Rank (1884–1939), an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, and teacher with a strong interest in art and symbolism. + Meyer.Erich Meyer (1897–1967), a German medievalist and a student of Adolph Goldschmidt. At any rate, the experiences of this show have rid me of any superstitious belief I might have had in the powers of German Kunstgelehrte.“Art scholars.”

We didn’t get the miniature mosaicHayford Peirce acquired the icon from Géza Dános (1886–1990), a Jewish Hungarian collector, in Paris in 1931, and his widow, Polly, gave it to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in his memory in October 1947. from Athens for the show; the owner,Géza Dános (1886–1990), a Jewish Hungarian collector typically, ‘was afraid’. He is asking £3000—£2,500—£2000 and may come down farther. Hayford left the very poor photo which was all I could get of it with a N.Y. photographer for a month in an effort (vain) to get it reproduced for you. I’m trying to get a better one and will send it if I can. But I don’t think you’d want the thing unless you could get it for say £1000, which doesn’t seem likely. (Hayford isn’t competing).Hayford Peirce acquired the icon in 1931.

Among the objects at the Exhibition, there is one No. 483 (photo being sent) which I think you’d adore: a most exquisite gold and enamelled necklace,“Byzantine gold necklace with various shaped links, some enameled with various designs including a cross; from the Francis Cook Sale.” The Brummer Gallery sold this necklace to Walter Evans Edge (1873–1956). Brummer Gallery Records, card X1498, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. See Exposition internationale d’art byzantin, 28 mai–9 juillet 1931 (Paris: Musée des arts décoratifs, 1931), 144, no. 483. See also postscript to this letter. belonging to the N.Y. Brummer.See also letter of July 10, 1931. And then———after the show started, Kelekian brought us a Coptic Tapestry (photo being sent) some 5 ft. long and 2 high, of 2 Nereids riding marine monsters, on a full red ground, with a golden-rod yellow ground in the border, a perfect marvel,The Blisses acquired this textile from Kelekian in 1932. and, after your big ECTIA the finest Byz-Coptic Tapestry known. Kelek. asked Henry Walters $50,000 for it (between you and me), and H. W. went off without taking it. If you would care to empower me to try to get it for $25,000 or $30,000 I might succeed—and I can’t imagine a more desirable object. It’s a perfect riot of colour and form, and in marvellous preservation. Let me know as soon as you can make up your minds on the photo. There’s nothing else for sale in the show which I think you’d thrill about, except the saffire [sic] gem (head of Christ)Probably Bust of Christ Blessing, Byzantine, tenth century, sapphire (BZ.1936.17), which the Blisses acquired from Feuardent Frères, Paris, in January, 1936. which you didn’t take last year.

We’re just on the point, I think, of closing with Adal HenrauxAlbert “Adal” S. Henraux (1881–1953), a curator at the Musée Condé, president of the Friends of the Louvre, and president of the Conseil Artistique des Musées Nationaux, Paris. (Librairie de France); if we can dispose of one or two difficult points. We hope to have Vol. IL’art byzantin. come out in October.

Many thanks for the letter to Danvila.Alfonso Danvila (1879–1945), a Spanish novelist and diplomat who served as his country’s ambassador to Argentina and France. I haven’t been able to present it yet, as I’ve been occupied every moment I could spare from work getting the exhibits photographed—one has to direct the operator, intelligent though he is.

Bill had a very good term at Oxford, and is now staying for a month with the Wingfield DigbysThe family of Simon Wingfield Digby (1910–1998) and George Frederick Wingfield Digby (1911–1989), who were classmates of William Royall Tyler at Harrow. Simon Wingfield Digby later became a British Conservative politician. George Wingfield Digby was later keeper of the department of textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1947 and 1972. on the Isle of Lewis, off the N. W. coast of Scotland, salmon fishing and reading philosophy. Elisina is well. She and Hayford are going in a couple of days to Antigny, and I hope to follow early Aug.

Much love

R. T.

P. S. 11.VII.31Saturday.

I saw, after writing the above yesterday, a most magnificent Sassanian silver plate.Plate, Sasanian period, reign of Shapur II fourth century, silver parcelgilt. This plate is now in the Freer Gallery of Art, acc. no. F1934.23, and was acquired in 1934. See Prudence Oliver Harper, Silver Vessels of the Sasanian Period (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, published in association with Princeton University Press, 1981), 61, fig. 15. It is in Russian hands and surrounded by the usual mysteries—I don’t even know name of owner. It was in the Stroganoff coll. and is reproduced in Smirnoff.See Vostochnoe Serebro: Atlas drevneĭ serebri︠a︡noĭ proiskhozhdenīi︠a︡, naĭdennoĭ preimushchestvenno v predi︠e︡lakh (Saint Petersburg, 1909), pl. 29, then in the Stronganoff collection. A king on horseback hunting 2 wild boars. It is finer and larger than the onePlate with King Hunting Rams, Sasanian, ca. mid-fifth to—mid-sixth century CE, silver, mercury gilding, and niello inlay, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 34.33. KevorkianHagop Kevorkian (1872–1962), a Turkish-Armenian archeologist, collector, and dealer of Middle Eastern antiquities. has, about which I wrote you last Oct.See letter of October 2, 1930. I am hoping I may get a photo for you. Owner ‘asks 1,000,000 fr. but would take less.’ Kevorkian asks $50,000 for his, and both Hayford and I like this one better.

I’ll also try and get a photo of a fragment of a grand silver bowl, with reliefs, which Stora has. Superb quality: one of the best representatives of the revival of Classical fashions in VI cent. Byz. It belongs really not to Stora but to a German called Burg,Hermann Burg (1878–1946), a German historian, collector, and dealer in Cologne until the early 1930s. With his wife Margaret (d. 1957), he authored a number of books and articles on Greek, Roman, and Egyptian minor arts. During the Nazi period, the Burgs moved to Holland, where they worked closely with the Leiden Museum, and they later settled in London in 1940, having fled Nazi-occupied Holland. Here, they continued to acquire antiquities for museums and private collectors. Margaret Burg traveled extensively in the Near East after her husband died in 1946 and continued adding to her own private collection until her death in 1957. and it might be had for £1500. It really is a marvel, and very rare.Dumbarton Oaks acquired BZ.1951.20 from Margaret Burg, Scarsdale, New York, in April 1951.

Brummer Jo Jo“Jo Jo” is Royall Tyler’s nickname for Joseph Brummer. is here. Unhappily, he has sold to one EdgeEdge has not been identified. (in N.Y., not the AmbassadorWalter Evans Edge (1873–1956), an American politician.) that necklace“Byzantine gold necklace with various shaped links, some enameled with various designs including a cross; from the Francis Cook Sale.” The Brummer Gallery sold this necklace to Walter Evans Edge (1873–1956). Brummer Gallery Records, card X1498, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. See also Exposition internationale d’art byzantin, 28 mai–9 juillet 1931 (Paris: Musée des arts décoratifs, 1931), 144, no. 483. about which I wrote above: Cat. 483. He sold it before the exhibition started.

Things are in such a state in Central Europe that many people expect the bottom to drop out altogether in a few weeks—or days. I’m not so black myself—but the position certainly is the gravest that we have seen since the War. I’m talonnering GiraudonAdolphe and Georges Giraudon founded a photographic library in 1877 in Paris that specialized in photographic reproductions for “artists and scholars.” See Monique Le Pelley Fonteny, Adolphe et Georges Giraudon, une bibliothèque photographique (Paris: Somogy, 2005). to print and send off the photos to you.See letter of July 10, 1931.

R. T.

Of all the things going at present, Kelekian’s Nereid tapestry is the one I think you’d care for most.