Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, March 9, 1935

Finance Ministry

Budapest

9.III.35

Dear Robert.

I’ve just heard from Sangiorgi that he has sent you photos., among them the Annunciation ivory.Annunciation, late seventh–early eighth century (?), ivory, Civiche Raccolte d’Arte Applicata, Castello Sforzesco, Milan, inv. A.14. It was acquired from the Trivulzio Collection in 1935. The ivory has been variously dated. See Kurt Weitzmann, ed., Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979), 198–99, no. 448; and Serena Ensoli and Eugenio La Rocca, Aurea Roma: Dalla città pagana alla città cristiana (Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2000), 590, no. 284. See also Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition Seventh–Ninth Century, edited by Helen C. Evans with Brandie Ratliff (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012), 46–47, no. 24H. He asks Lire 300,000 for it. I’m not surprised by the price, but I think one might get a reduction, if you are interested.

I’ve asked him also to send you a photo. of a Byzantine-Lombard jewel,Pendant and Reliquary, ca. 398–407, agate, gold, emeralds, and rubies, Musée du Louvre, Paris, acc. no. OA 9523. On one side, the names of Maria, her parents, and husband are arranged to form the chi-rho (the first two Greek letters of the name of Christ). This side reads (clockwise around a central cross): HONORI, MARIA (forming the curve of the rho), SERHNA, STELICHO. On the other side, the names of Stelicho, his wife, and children are also arranged to form the chi-rho. This side reads (clockwise around a central cross): STELICHO, SERENA (forming the curve of the rho), EUCHERI, THERMANTIA. On both sides, the horizontal bar of the cross reads: VIVATIS “May they live.” Between the two pieces of agate is earth, most likely from the Holy Land. The pendant, which had been in the Trivulzio Collection, was acquired by a member of the Montesquiou-Fezensac family, and was an anonymous gift to the Musée du Louvre on behalf of the Société des Amis du Louvre in 1951. See Kurt Weitzmann, ed., Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979), 306, no. 279. of which he has only sent me a rough scketch by himself—but which looks a real marvel. He asks 40,000 Lire for it.

I’m thinking of going to Italy for a few days in May, after (or possibly before) the next Fin. CteeFinancial Committee of the League of Nations. meeting in Geneva on May 6 and following days. If you want me to see Sangiorgi about these things at that time I’ll gladly do it, or I might, if necessary, manage before then. The idea of your possessing the Trivulzio Annunciation excites me as much as it could if something had fetched loose out of the Cabinet des Médailles.

We’re having an exciting time here, things very difficult in many ways, and rather too interesting for comfort.

Much love to you both.

Yrs

R. T.

 
Associated People: Giorgio Sangiorgi
Associated Places: Budapest (Hungary)