Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, April 20, 1939

Dear Robert.

I forgot, when writing to you the other day from Hyères, to mention Mme de Béhague’sMartine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, Comtesse de Béarn (1869–1939), a French art patron and collector. Coll. As you no doubt know, she died some time ago. She left her things (works of art) in her trésor“Treasure trove.”—the bust itself has been bought by Roumania, for their Legation—in Paris to Hubert de Ganay.Octave Marie Hubert de Ganay (1888–1974), Marquis de Ganay, a French corporate director and president of the Chamber of Agriculture of Cher and nephew of Martine, Comtesse de Béarn. The other day, I saw Charles de Noailles,Charles de Noailles(1891–1981), Vicomte de Noailles, a French nobleman and patron of the arts. who told me that H. de G. told him that he feared the demands of the fisc“Taxation.” would be such that he’d have to sell some of the things in order to keep the rest.

Now, you & Mildred no doubt remember the things. There are few you’ve really want, but I take it you would be glad to have the consular diptychConsular Diptych Leaf of Unidentified Consul, fifth–sixth century, ivory. See Richard Delbrueck, Die Consulardiptychen und verwandte Denkmäler (Leipzig: Walter De Gruyter, 1929), 172–74, no. 41. By 1909, the ivory was in the collection of Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, comtesse de Béarn (1869–1939), and it passed by descent to Hubert de Ganay, Marquis de Ganay, and to Jean-Louis, Marquis de Ganay. It was auctioned by Sotheby’s, Monaco, on December 5, 1987, lot 156, and again by Sotheby’s, London, on June 22, 2004, lot 48, where it reportedly was acquired by the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid.  reproduced in Vol. IL’art byzantin, 97, pl. 166b. (say $2.500-3000), an ivory vase with scrolls,This cylindrical box was published by Ernst Kühnel in 1971 as belonging to the Marquis Hubert de Ganay; see Ernst Kühnel, Die islamischen Elfenbeinskulpturen: 8–13 Jh. (Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 1971), 25, no. 3. The present whereabouts of the box is unknown. V-VI cent., rather like one in the V.A.Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Box, (Egypt or Syria), ca. 750–850, ivory with a beechwood lid, Islamic Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. 136-1866. (say $2000), the silver-gilt chalice VII-VIII with inscription,Chalice with inscription, Egyptian, Early Islamic, sixth–seventh century, silver gilt, Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. OA 11321. The chalice was formerly in the collection of Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, Comtesse de Béarn, and passed by descent to Hubert de Ganay, Marquis de Ganay. See Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition Seventh–Ninth Century, edited by Helen C. Evans with Brandie Ratliff (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012), 188, no. 128. which we reproduced in our Vol. III (say $10,000), and the big steatite carvingIcon with the Hetoimasis and Four Saints, late tenth–early eleventh century, steatite, Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. OA 11152. The icon was formerly in the collection of Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, Comtesse de Béarn, and passed by descent to Hubert de Ganay, Marquis de Ganay. (say $ 5-7000).

Of course I haven’t the faintest idea whether H. de G.Octave Marie Hubert de Ganay (1888–1974), Marquis de Ganay, a French corporate director and president of the Chamber of Agriculture of Cher and nephew of Martine, Comtesse de Béarn. wants to sell these things, & I didn’t give Ch. de Noailles the slighted hint that they might be of interest. If H. de G. does want to sell, he’ll doubtless ask the moon to start with, but one might find means to convey a hint to him that it would be worth his while to short-circuit his dealer friends & make a reasonable bargain with you, if you are interested. All the 4 objects I’ve mentioned are rarissimos.“Most rare.” Please let me know if you want me to sound possibilities.

I may after all be coming over, early in June. I’ll let you know the moment I know, & will, if you can have me, come straight to D.O.

I’ve just heard from a publishing house that has been nibbling at L’Art Byz. I think we are going to be able to make an arrangement with them: Vols I & II & III, all together, in Eng., Fr. & German (i.e. one edition in Eng., one in Fr., one in German). ¡Ojalá!“Let’s hope!”

Love to you both

Yrs

R. T.

 
Associated Things: L'art byzantin