Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, November 27, 1938 [2]

Hotel Richemond

Genève

27.XI.38

Dear Robert.

Just a line to tell you that I’m deeply grateful to you for the endless trouble you’ve taking in Doro’s interest.

What has been so cruel in his case is the cat-&-mouse official attitude—his chiefs telling him privately that a) he wouldn’t be touched b) if he was touched if would only be the Professorship he’d lose & he’d certainly be kept in the Supraintendenza, c) that all would be all right if he kept quiet—showed no desire to get out—& all to end up with depriving him of everything. If they had been merciful enough just to keep their months shut at the beginning, he could have got out then, & far more easily than now—when he’ll probably lose all his household belongings—which incidentally belong to his wife,Anna Cosadino (Kosadinou) Levi (1895–1981), wife of the art historian and archaeologist Teodoro (“Doro”) Davide Levi (1899–1991). She was born in the Greek section of Istanbul and married Levi in 1928. See Giovanna Bandini, Lettere dall’egeo: Archeologhe italiane tra 1900 e 1950 (Florence: Giunti, 2003), 92n29 and 122n3. who is not a Jewess, but that may not help.

Well, it’s no exaggeration to say that the help you’re giving him has meant all to him through a hideous time.

I asked to have the affidavits sent to me, here, because there are cases in which affidavits sent from US direct have never reached the person to whom they were addressed. And separate affidavits for him & for Anna, so that she may try to move her household silver, linen, etc., without delaying his departure. I understand from your cable received yest. evening that the two affidavits were sent yesterday. Many thanks. One is so afraid that some demented Jewish wretch may let off a gun, and that the roughnecks may stage a show like in Germany.Ernst Eduard vom Rath (1909–1938), a German diplomat who was assassinated in 1938 by a Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan; the assassination provided the pretext for the Kristallnacht, a series of coordinated attacks against Jews in Germany and Austria on November 9–10, 1938.

I’m glad you’ve made LandauNicolas 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. the 5 offer,For BZ.1939.8. & I hope you’ll stick to the task of getting that most important object. I’ll do my best to get the MakridyTheodore Makridy (Macridy) (1872–1940), a Turkish archaeologist and curator who was the founding director of the Benaki Museum in Athens (1931–1940); he was the former keeper (1872–1931) of the Greek and Byzantine department and the assistant director (1925–1930) of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. one.Wing of a triptych with the Archangel Gabriel and the bust of Saint Paul, tenth century, ivory, Benaki Museum, Athens, inv. no. 10399. The ivory was donated to the Benaki Museum in 1939 by Stephanos and Penelope Delta. Reportedly, it was acquired from someone named Tozakoglu. See Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections (Athens: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Benaki Museum, 2013), 158–59, no. 76. I’ll go to see it. I think one had better proceed slowly here, & avoid any appearance of being keen about it, for otherwise the chances of the BenakiThe Benaki Museum, Athens, a museum established and endowed in 1930 by the Greek collector Antonis Benakis (1873–1954) and housed in the Benakis family mansion in Athens. people getting it might be seriously increased.

Robert, I’m much disturbed in my mind about Kelek’s glass ewer.This molded blue glass ewer has not been identified. The more I look at the photo the more the object looks to me like one made of silver. And that signature. Sauf erreur,“If I’m not mistaken.” there is no signed antique (or Byz) glass known. The decoration on the object is decoration appropriate rather to silver than to glass.

The object certainly isn’t modern—or if it is I’m quite mistaken. But I’m at a loss to know what it is. Can it possibly be a Renaissance object, made in imitation of a silver antique original? Anyway, the price asked is one of the most impertinent I’ve ever heard of. Do show the photos to all the classical people you come across, & see what they say. The more I look at it the less Byz. It seems to me.

Much love to you both.

R. T.

P.S. You’ll appreciate why Doro has not written to you himself. Letters outgoing are often opened, & the risk is one I’m sure you wouldn’t want him to take.

 
Associated People: Dikran G. Kelekian; Doro Levi
Associated Artworks: BZ.1939.8