Robert Woods Bliss to Royall Tyler, October 11, 1937 [2]

October 11, 1937.

Royall Tyler, Esq.

Finance Ministry,

Budapest, Hungary

Dear Royall:

After telegraphing you on September 26th, we altered our plans somewhat and did not reach here until yesterday morning. Among the mail awaiting us was your welcome letter of September 15th, for which I thank you.

There was also here your telegramSee telegram of October 8, 1937 [2]. about the misgivings of the ownerElias (Elie) Bustros, an antiquities dealer in Beirut, Lebanon. of the marriage belt,BZ.1937.33. so I am cabling you today so that you may reassure him.See telegram of October 11, 1937 [1]. I am also enclosing my check to pay for the belt, so as to facilitate your remitting for it on its receipt or as soon thereafter as agreeable to you.

We arrived here yesterday morning, and found such an accumulation of matters awaiting our attention that we have not yet had time to look at the Americana objects.PC.B.045, PC.B.056, PC.B.100, PC.B.101, PC.B.110, PC.B.160, PC.B.161, PC.B.162, and PC.B.249. I think we shall put everything aside so as to examine them tonight, and then I may add a P. S. to this or write you later on about them.

You will be pleased to know that the EmperorBZ.1937.23. is to be delivered at Dumbarton Oaks day after tomorrow, when a custom inspector from Baltimore will have a look at it. We are greatly excited, and as keen as can be to see it. As regards this long awaited thriller, in a letter from V. which was awaiting us yesterday, he says that the former owner of the Emperor is particularly desirous that no publicity should be give to it in any way, because he has other objects which he wants to sell and is desirous of getting rid of them all before it is known that he has parted with it already, so we shall do our best to play “cache-cache”“Hide-and-seek.” with this newest but ancient member of the family.

V. also says that he saw in his travels a number of objects on the market but nothing he thought would be of interest to us, and that he has already spoken to you about them, also that he had seen Herr F. who was still hot on the trail of various things.

A propos again of the Emperor, the papers which I found on my desk in regard to its shipment indicated that it was insured for 33,000 Swiss francs!

In your tomeSee letter of September 4, 1937. to Mildred which we devoured when it reached us at Casa Dorinda, you referred in detail to a number of objects which you had seen at Prince Juritzky’s, and of which he subsequently sent us photographs. At this moment, I haven’t your letter to Mildred nor the one from Juritzky in my hand, so I must refer to this matter somewhat from memory. I am enclosing a copy,The whereabouts of this copy are not known. for your information, of my answer to Juritzky’s letter. From which you will see that we have turned down the whole lot. There were certainly some good things among them, but we felt that it was unnecessary to go out of our field in this instance when there was still the possibility of your prying loose the things of which F. has been working for some months past. The two Labradorite columns,BZ.1940.78–79. judging from the photographs and especially from your description, must be really lovely, but there is no place where we can conveniently and suitably place them. From the photograph of the ivory beaker,This Carolingian ivory cup has not been identified. it was difficult to determine the colour of the ivory, but the photograph made it appear as if the colour were very dark and not particularly pleasing. The porphyry relief of green serpentineThis porphyry relief of green serpentine has not been identified. also appealed to us as an interesting piece. But after examining the photographs carefully, and reading your letter, and what Juritzky had written about the objects, we came to the conclusion which I have indicated above.

From my telegram of September 26th, you will have learned that your two letters of the 11th and 15th [sic]The telegram mentions the letter of September 13, 1937, not September 15. had reached us for which, as usual, very many thanks. We are delighted to have the more life-like photograph of the Virgin,BZ.1938.62. and agree with you that she is lovely. Do you think that the inscriptions in the upper left and right corners are contemporary? We also like immensely the Venice ivoryJohn the Evangelist and Paul, ivory, Museo Archeologico, Venice. See Adolph Goldschmidt and Kurt Weitzmann, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.–XIII. Jahrhunderts, vol. 2, Reliefs (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1934), 38, no. 43, pl. 19. and consequently would feel the same way about the one in Dresden.

Since you wrote on September 11th, we have bought the gold crossBZ.1937.24. from Stora, and it is now at his brother’sRaphaël Stora ran a branch of the business in New York City, R. Stora, 471 Park Avenue, and later Stora Art Galleries, Inc., 670 Fifth Avenue. place in New York, and I hope to pick it up there in a few days. I know that we shall be delighted with it.

I think we concur with what you have written about the Germanic things and particularly concerning the Melk altar,BZ.1937.16. and we shall in consequence not bother about the other. However, I do not regret having bought the one we have, as it is a good example of the school and is perhaps not out of place for students to use in making comparisons with the finer work of other schools. I found here yesterday a letter from Byk,Paul M. Byk (1887–1946), an employee of Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., New York. saying that he was sailing on the 9th and bringing with him a very fine Byzantine ivory pawn.This Byzantine ivory pawn has not been identified. Also one from Kelek, informing me that he had brought back a “magnificent” Byz. bronze piece.Possibly BZ.1938.23, which Kelekian describes as a “Byzantine panther which was found in Constantinople” in correspondence to Robert Woods Bliss, dated November 23, 1937. The Blisses acquired this bronze panther on March 28, 1938. “Nous verrons!”“We shall see.” Did he send it to you?

As regards the Hispano-Moresque Alhambra vaseAlthough this vase has not been identified, it is described in a letter from Maurice Stora to Robert Woods Bliss, dated September 14, 1937. Accompanying the letter are two documents: “Expertise du Vase Alhambra” by Professor Egbal and “Eine spanisch-maurische Alhambra Vase” by Otto von Falke. Byzantine Collection dealer files, M. & R. Stora correspondence. See also letters of October 11, 1937 [2]; and October 25, 1937 [2]. of which Stora has sent me some excellent photographs,These photographs were not retained. I do not feel that this is an object for us. In the first place, it costs a considerable sum, which I would rather put into a purely Byzantine object of a like quality and rarity. In the second place, it would be almost impossible to place it at Dumbarton Oaks. I have written more or less to this effect to Stora—not closing the door—asking if he would like me to suggest it to some museum or other collector if we should decide not to try to acquire it.

Have you seen the catalogueCatalogue of the Superb Collection of Rings Formed by the Late Monseiur E. Guilhou, of Paris, Comprising Rings of the Classical Period, Including Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Rings, Rings of the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Modern Times . . . Which will be Sold by Auction . . . on Tuesday, the 9th of November 1937, and Three Following Days (London: Sotheby and Co, 1937). See also Seymour de Ricci, Catalogue of a Collection of Ancient Rings Formed by the Late E. Guilhou (Paris, 1912). of the collection of rings belonging to Monsieur E. GuilhouÉdouard Guilhou, a Parisian collector. which is to be sold at Southeby’s [sic], beginning November 9th. There are included in this amazing collection a number of Byzantine and Early Christian ones. Judging from the illustration and the description, No. 460BZ.1947.15. looks as if it might be worth our making a try for. What do you think and would you suggest any others of particular interest, such as 455 and 456BZ.1937.26.—perhaps also 457 and 469?

If you should counsel our having a try for No. 460BZ.1947.15. or any other one, or two perhaps, could you communicate with Bill and ask him to be good enough to arrange to have someone bid for us, giving him what you think a suitable limit? If he were to examine them after they have been put on exhibition, (November 7th and 8th), he should be able, of course, to advise whether there is anything of sufficient importance, interest, and of the aesthetic standard we try to maintain, to be added to the collection at Dumbarton Oaks.

I have not yet seen the diptychThis diptych has not been identified. offered by FurstFurst has not been identified. nor has he sent me a photograph. When I have a look at it in New York and if it interests me particularly, I shall get a photograph and send it to you.

I am going to send this off now without further delay, but either Mildred or I will be writing you again very soon.

With much love,

Yours always,


P. S. Since dictating the above, Mildred and I have been talking of a suitable place to put all the sculptures together, and think we may perfect and consummate a plan we have had for many months of putting a pavilion with a false façade at the end of the north vista.Several drawings (G.2.17.f–g and k–p) preserved in the Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection appear to be designs for this sculpture pavilion at the end of the North Vista. Two of the drawings are dated October 8, 1936. This would not be realized until some time next spring, if we do definitely decide to build it. In talking this over, Mildred again referred to the Labradorite columnsBZ.1940.78–79. belonging to Prince Juritzky. I think I may write him to ask him to hold these temporarily, as we should like to consider them. In your letter to Mildred, you said that you thought he might be open to lower offers than the prices he had placed on the various objects. Do you think you could write him and say that you had heard from me, and that I had changed my mind about the columns after returning to Washington, and had written you that I thought we might possibly be able to place them, if we build a small pavilion to house the sculptures—a plan we are now considering and may possibly put into effect sometime next year—and then say we think he would be disposed to reduce the price of 8,000 schillings, which he placed on the two columns? I would not saddle you with this chore had you not suggested in your letter that perhaps you could wangle him down a bit.

Enc. Copy of letter to Prince Juritzky October 4th.

“ “ “ “ “ “ 12thThe whereabouts of these copies are not known.

Associated Things: M. & R. Stora, Paris