Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, November 17, 1939

17.XI.39

Dear Robert.

I’ve just had the enclosed from Kaleb, in reply to a letter in which I told him what I thought of the recent KhawamKhawam Brothers, an antiquities business that was founded in Cairo in 1862 by Sélim Khawam. objects. It’s amusing that Kaleb should be “terreux de constater”“Truculent to note.” that my impressions should be that the stuff is late and poor, instead of being of great interest, as Kaleb described it when he first wrote to me about it. After Khawam has been thoroughly bowled out, and if the stuff really comes to Paris, you might perhaps consider (no hurry) offering a small sum, say 1/10 of the price asked for it, just to have something that shows how the Coptic tradition ran down and was eventually leaked unto by European (Italian) influences. And the inscription on the big vessel might possibly be of interest.

I’m just leaving for Paris and London, where I expect to spend a few days & to see some of the people who are working in the economic field.

I’m very much cheered by the news that Arthur Salter has accepted the post of Parliamentary under-sec. of the ministry of shipping. He ought, of course, to be minister. But his criticisms of the cabinet have been pretty outspoken, and the P.M.Prime Minister. wants his colleagues to be party men, which Arthur decidedly is not. As it is, he’ll be in a very strong position to frame the policy of the Min. of Shipping. And I’m really delighted that he should have made the sacrifice of his prejudices, and stopped just sitting in his suit and sulking.

I’ve been plugging away at it here, almost without leaving the place, since the war started, and I’m looking forward to changing air a bit.

The photographer BöhmOsvaldo Böhm, a photographer and publisher who specialized in images of the art and architecture of Venice. is at work doing the detailed photos of the Pala d’Oro.Pala d’Oro (“Golden Cloth”), the high altar retable of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice. The altarpiece consists of two parts. The lower part features enamels illustrating the story of Saint Mark, a portrait of the doge, and a Pantocrator Christ—all of which originated as an antependium commissioned by the doge Ordelafo Faliero (d. 1117) from court craftsmen of Constantinople in 1102. The Byzantine enamels of the upper part, which includes an image of the Archangel Michael, may have been looted by the Crusaders in Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade of 1204. I may be able to go down there presently & see how he’s getting on. I thought better grasp this opportunity of having a record made. . . one never knows.

Love to both of you.

Yrs

R. T.

 
Associated People: Arthur Salter
Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères