Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, January 8, 1938 [3]

Finance Ministry


8th January 1938.

Dear Robert,

I have been in very much of a rush lately, and I cannot remember whether I acknowledged your cable of the 27th December, which I received before leaving Hyères. At any rate, I communicated immediately with Fiedler about the two Dresden ivories, and I hope to hear from him soon in that connexion. I have written to Juritzky about the Labradorite columns,BZ.1940.78–79. and I expect that I shall soon hear from him. It is understood that he is to pay freight on them up to maximum Schl. 1,500.

I have not yet received notice of the remittance to my account in London of which you speak, but if it has come by post there is hardly time as yet.

I went down to Rome from Hyères to see the Retrospective Textile ExhibitionSee Luigi Serra, L’antico tessuto d’arte italiano nella Mostra del tessile nazionale (Roma—1937-38-XVI) (Rome: La Libreria dello Stato, 1937). there, which contained a number of magnificent things, several of them unknown to me except by reputation. Most of them come from churches in Italy, but there were a few good pieces, Sicilian and Lucca, from Sangiorgi and Loewy [sic], and there were some stunning pieces in the same categories belonging to one Werner Abegg,Werner Abegg (1903–1984), a Swiss textile industrialist, collector of textiles, and the founder of the Abegg Foundation in Riggisberg. a Swiss cotton spinner who lives in Turin and who apparently has a magnificent collection of textiles. I am told he thinks nothing of paying $20,000 to $30,000 for an important piece, and that he made a gift of 15 million Lire to the Turin hospital last year. So he is likely to be a formidable factor in this particular field.

I am enclosing Géjou’sIsaac Élias Géjou (d. 1939), an Armenian antiquities dealer in Paris. receipt for the price of the spoons.BZ.1937.35–42. Bustros,Elias (Elie) Bustros, an antiquities dealer in Beirut, Lebanon. in acknowledging receipt of the price of the marriage beltBZ.1937.33. does not mention the sum, so I am enclosing the relevant letters from Morgan GrenfellMorgan, Grenfell & Co., an investment bank in London. In 1904, Edward Grenfell was made a partner in the firm, which was formerly known as J. P. Morgan & Co. and which, in 1909, became Morgan, Grenfell and Company. The bank played an important role in the reconstruction of European countries in the 1920s. in London. Bustros was a little bit too clever about the exchange guarantee he asked for. I gave him the guarantee on October 12th, agreeing to pay him in French Francs. The rate was then 29.93. On November 16th, Bustros wrote to me stipulating that our agreement was on the basis of a rate of 29.50, and I am glad to see by the letter I have received from him to-day /enclosed/ that he raises no objection. The calculation, in case I did not give it to you before, is:

Price of the marriage belt,BZ.1937.33. $2,500

at 29.50 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Plus 2,000 Francs for the little

gold inlaid plaqueBZ.1937.34. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


2,000. –

= Francs . . . . . . .

75,750. –

In a letter I had to-day from Bustros he sends me two photographs, which I am enclosing, showing a piece of marble sculptureBZ.1938.56. for which he wants $250. It looks to me like Byzantine work of the Ve century, and very attractive. If you would care to have it, you might let me know by cable, mentioning the price you want to offer. Of course, Bustros may have sold it elsewhere in the meantime. I did not think the piece important enough to warrant complying with his demand for an immediate decision. Perhaps, if the photos of the objects he mentions in the passage I have marked in red are very attractive, and the price does not seem too exorbitant, I may cable you asking for a decision about them.

I have suggested to Bustros that he send me some photographs of his Hittite and Assyrian objects. I am sure you will enjoy his French, which would almost be worth reproducing.

I hear that Doro Levi lectured at the Oaks on Arkades.In November 1937, Doro Levi delivered the lecture “Arkades and the Dawn of Greek Art,” first at Dumbarton Oaks and then for the Municipal Art Society of New York and the Art and Archaeology Journal Club of Princeton University. A copy of the lecture is in the Doro Levi Papers, ca. 1937, Dumbarton Oaks Archives. I have his book on the subject,Doro Levi, “Arkades: Una città cretese all’alba della civilità ellenica,” Annuario della scuola archeologica d’Atene 10–12 (1927–1929): 5–723. which is an extremely interesting one, as his discoveries throw a great deal of light on that mysterious point: the connexion between Cretan and the beginnings of Greek art. I hope the lecture was a success. I should be very much obliged to you if you would let me know what impression it made, and any criticisms. This for my own enlightenment, of course, and not for repetition. I may easily be asked for advice as to how he is to improve his form as a lecturer in English, and I should be very glad to be of any assistance I could to him, for he is a fine type of unworldly, disinterested scholar, always anxious to help others and to give them the greatest credit for what they have done, without bothering his head about what is due to himself.

I have got to go to Geneva again next week, but I expect to be back here for a bit by the 25th of this month and you had perhaps better cable here unless you get other news from me in the meantime.

Love to you both.


R. T.

I’m longing to hear what you think of the marriage-belt,BZ.1937.33. which should be with you now.

I hope that this trip to Geneva will settle the problem of my immediate future—but hope has been deferred several times, & may be again.