Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, March 2, 1939 [2]

2.III.39 Geneva

Dear Robert.

I have just received from Volbach’s friend SestieriEttore Sestieri, an art historian, dealer, and the director of the Galleria Barberini in Rome. photos of two heads of Popes, in mosaic, said to be from old St. Peter’s in Rome, one of them “Innocent III” (1198–1216),Pope Innocent III, thirteenth-century mosaic fragment from the apse of the first basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. The mosaic is now in the Museo di Roma, Rome. & the other “Gregory IX” (1227–1241).Pope Gregory IX, thirteenth-century mosaic fragment from the facade of the first basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. The mosaic is now in the Museo di Roma, Rome.

Roman mosaic was never anything to write home about, except at certain brief moments when it got its head above water (not for long). The first half of the XIII cent. is one of the periods in which it reached the lowest ebb. These two heads put up by SestieriEttore Sestieri, an art historian, dealer, and the director of the Galleria Barberini in Rome. are to my mind about as degraded as anything could be: “Innocent III” hasn’t even the excuse of being mutilated. “Greg. IX” is a wreck: the proper R. side of the face is partly shattered, partly restored.

I don’t know what SestieriEttore Sestieri, an art historian, dealer, and the director of the Galleria Barberini in Rome. is asking for these things, but I strongly recommend you to turn them down, whatever the price asked. They are of the very lowest order, even without speaking of the horrible mess “Greg. IX” presents.

I hope to hear from you soon that you’ve had the letter I sent you from Paris on Feb. 14th, and what you have decided to do with regard to Landau.Nicolas Landau (1887–1979), an antiquities dealer known as “Le prince des antiquaires.” Born in Varsovia, he studied law in Paris before becoming an antiquities dealer in New York and then in Paris, where he had a business on the rue de Duras. I think you should get the ivoryBZ.1939.8.—and it might be possible to get it for a reasonable price. Let me know if you want me to do anything more about it.

I should be grateful if you would let me have back, as soon as possible, the photos I sent to you last September to illustrate my paperHayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, “Elephant Tamer Silk, VIIIth Century,” in Three Byzantine Works of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 2 (1941): 19–26. of your Elephant Tamer Silk.BZ.1927.1. I need them.

I expect shortly to bring out a new edition of our book on Byz. Art, Vols I, II, and III, all in one vol. Please let me know how you want the objects belonging to you to figure, in the text & in the plates. “Dumbarton Oaks Coll.” Or what?

Please give the enclosedThe enclosure was not retained with the letter. to Mildred.

 
Associated People: Friedrich (“Fritz”) Volbach
Associated Places: Rome (Italy)
Associated Things: L'art byzantin
Associated Artworks: BZ.1927.1; BZ.1939.8