Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, November 22, 1939

Hôtel de Crillon

Place de la Concorde

Paris

22.XI.39

Dear Robert.

A hurried line to tell you that I have just seen the big bronze vessel,BZ.1939.14.1. the two crucifixesBZ.1939.14.11–12. etc from Khawam.Khawam Brothers, an antiquities business that was founded in Cairo in 1862 by Sélim Khawam. My impression received from the photos, & which I transmitted to you by air letter from Geneva, remain unaltered. One important point, however: the presentations on the big bronze vessel are not executed in silver inlay, (as the designs are on the vessels you have), but merely incised, the cut out parts having a green patina which on the photo shows as if it might be silver inlay.

The “feel” of the big vessel is not at all like that of the things you have.

I bawled out Kaleb, & told him the stuff was beneath contempt. However, whether or not the provenance story is right, I think you might be interested to have this lot, as illustrating a tardy and little known phase of Coptic, if you could get if for about 1/10th of what they ask.

The sarco frontSarcophagus front. Measurements are given on the back of the photograph: 61 cm high x 210 cm wide. Byzantine Collection, Kalebdjian Frères correspondence file. wasn’t available for me to see, but I’m told that it may be, next week, when I am on my way back from London.

Paris is very beautiful and very moving. There’s a bright moon this evening, & the Seine is very high. I’ve just returned from walking—all the way from the Place de l’Alma, along the quais, down to Notre Dame, across the bridge behind the chevet, across the Ile-St. Louis & so to the Hotel de Ville, where I took the metro. Le moral est bon. On les aura.“Morale is good. We’ll get them.” On les aura was a motto used during the First World War.

Much love to you both

Yrs

R. T.

 
Associated Places: Paris (France)
Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères
Associated Artworks: BZ.1939.14.1–25