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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, February 3, 1931

29, rue d’Astorg
F Anjou 16–88

Dearest Mildred—I’ve gone and bought for you something without consulting you—I had to take the decision instantaneously. It is a Mesopotamian bone tiger’s head, in the round, probably late Arsacid or early Sassanian, very fine indeed. (Frs. 30,000). It belonged to May Norris,May Norris (d. 1938), an American interior designer and friend of Edith Wharton. She owned the Château de Gourdon, near the French Riviera, between 1918 and 1938, which she opened to her American and British friends. See Allyson Hayward, Norah Lindsay: The Life and Art of a Garden Designer (London: Frances Lincoln, 2007), 200 and 270. and I have known and admired it for years. May Norris had an urgent call for money to meet the other day. I was in Spain. Elisina wired to me, and I decided to risk it, although you hadn’t seen it, for it was take it or leave it, and I know Vignier offered her Frs. 30,000 for it not long ago. I’ve never seen anything like it and I feel sure that it’s a thing that would sorely tempt you if you saw it at Vignier’s—and there the price would be . . . what? I’ll have it photographed at once and send it along. I hate buying anything without submitting to you, but in this case . . . I’ll try not to do it again. Would you transfer say £250 to my ac/ at Hambros?

May Norris doesn’t know it’s for you.

I returned from Spain yesterday, and I had a marvelous time there, and am feeling ever so much better—though to return from that brilliant sun to February Paris fog and ooze is painful. I spent 9 days in Madrid with Bill, and left him there in a very nice Spanish family. He’s learning the language with incredible facility: his dago ancestry appears to predispose him to do so. I can’t resist the temptation of sending you a bunch of letters I found here on my return, from him, imploring you to send them back to me when you have read them, as Elisina and I want to keep them.

His delight in the Prado and in Toledo was something marvellous to behold. I thought he’d appreciate Spain, but I wasn’t prepared—unimaginatively—to have him fall head over heels in love with it as he has done. As it is, I’m steeling myself against the moment when he proposes to transfer himself from the University of Oxford to that of Madrid. An awkward position for me, what?

After leaving Madrid I did a rapid trip to Cordova, Seville, Cadiz, Valencia, Barcelona and back by Vich and the Pyrenean Romanesque churches. I went to St. Genis des Fontaines, and found in a house occupying part of the old Abbey buildings half a dozen arches of the old cloister, with their capitals, identical to those of the Chrissoveloni cloisterThe thirteenth-century cloister from the Abbey of Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines in the Roussillon region of southwestern France. The cloister had been decommissioned after the French Revolution and eventually was sold to the Parisian antiquities dealer Paul Gouvert. He had replications of architectural elements fabricated and sold parts of the cloister between 1924 and 1928 to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and to Zanni (Jean) Chrissoveloni (1881–1926), a Romanian banker, who installed them at the Castle Mésnuls. See letter of January 6, 1931 [2]; February 14, 1931; and March 17, 1931. about which I wrote you.See letter of January 6, 1931 [2]. It comes from St. Genis, all right.

In Madrid I did some good work for our Exhibition. AlbaDon Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó, 17th Duke of Alba (1876–1953). was very helpful, and promises to do all he can to get for us the half dozen supreme objects Spain can give us. And things are beginning to look up. The Hunkeys,Hunkey or Hunky was Royall Tyler’s term for a Hungarian. dear things, promise all, the Germans are tout feu tout flamme,“All fire, all flame.” Italy is coming round, and even Eric seems to be relenting. I think we are going to have a show that will not be inferior to the Persian oneInternational Exhibition of Persian Art, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London, January 7–February 28, 1931. See Persian Art: An Illustrated Souvenir of the Exhibition of Persian Art at Burlington House, London, 1931 (London: Hudson and Kearns, 1931), in splendour, and greatly superior to it in significance for the understanding of European art.

In Madrid I also saw a lot of political and financial people. It is most curious, they most of them talk just as PoincaréRaymond Poincaré (1860–1934), a French politician who served as prime minister on five separate occasions and as president of France from 1913 to 1920. etc used to before the sharp jolt of the franc at 250 to the pound (Aug. 1926) opened their eyes.

Politically, the situation is bad. The King has lost much in prestige. Most of the elder Statesmen refuse to work with him—say they don’t trust him. RomanonesÁlvaro de Figueroa y Torres-Sotomayor, 1st Count of Romanones (1863–1950), a Spanish politician and minister of state in 1931. and, particularly, CambóFrancesc Cambó i Batlle (1876–1947), a conservative Catalan politician. are his strong cards—but they are both doubtful factors. And the army is uncertain, and suffering from bad conscience for having let down Capt. Galán and his comrades of the Jaca revolt.Fermín Galán Rodriguez (1899–1930), a Spanish military Republican revolutionary and one of the leaders of the Jaca Revolt against the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera on December 12, 1930. Although the uprising was suppressed and Galán was executed, the uprising led to the Second Spanish Republic four months later.

It appears that the Huesca garrison, together with a lot of others, was de mèche,“An accomplice.” and only failed to rise with Galán at Jaca because there was some bungling with the time table. Someone who has seen the minutes of the Court Martial which judged Galán told me that the proceedings opened with the invariable question:

¿Tenia V. cómplices?
(Galan) —Si, Vdes todos.
—¡Tenga presente el acusado que está en un consejo de Guerra!
—No, que están Vdes equivocados. Aqui no hay consejo de guerra. Aqui no hay más caballeros que este señor (pointing to the other accused officer) y un servidor (himself). Los demás, son Vdes unos sinvergüenzas.“Did you have accomplices? (Galan) Yes, all of you. The defendant will keep in mind that he is at a court-martial! No, you are wrong. This is no court-martial. Here there are no more gentlemen other than this gentleman and myself. The rest of you are scoundrels.”

When Galán and the other officerÁngel García Hernández. were being led out to be shot, the other, poor devil, trembled and had to be supported. Galán shook him by the shoulder and said: ¿Te crees tu que esto es una fiesta de pueblo? No, estas son cosas que si salen bien, se cubre uno de gloria, y si no, se j—.“Do you think this is a village festival? No, these are matters which, if they turn out well, cover one in glory, and if not, one is . . .”

And, arrived at the place of execution, Galán demanded and obtained leave to command the firing squad. He laid his right hand on his heart and cried: !Apuntad!: soldados, traicioneros del regimiento tal, fuego!“Aim! soldiers, traitors of the regiment, fire!”

On the King’s birthday, a throng of people had to be dispersed by the police on their way to manifest in front of the house where Galán’s mother lives, in Madrid.

It is being repeated all over Spain that when the present Prime Minister, Berenguer,Dámaso Berenguer y Fusté, Count of Xauen (1873–1953), a Spanish politician and prime minister of Spain in 1930. was imprisoned after his unfortunate Moroccan campaign, he was in Galán’s custody, and Galán offered to set him at liberty, or to start a rising in his support. Berenguer declined, but ever afterwards kept in touch with Galán. A few weeks before the Jaca rising, Galán went to Berenguer and handed him his resignation from the army. Berenguer refused to accept it: tore it up, and told Galán he must stay in the army.

Against all these stories, which are turning Galán into a popular hero, the fact that he was found in possession of some £40,000 which can have come from no other quarter than Soviet Russia, doesn’t seem to count.

Summing it all up, Miguel UtrilloMiguel Utrillo y Molins (1862–1934), a painter and friend of Royall Tyler. said Aqui puede pasar cualquier cosa; hasta una revolucion sovietica. Pero si se hace, se hará con los curas.“Anything can happen here, even a Soviet revolution. But if it happens, it will be with the priests.” My personal guess is that they may turn out the King, but that order will be preserved—but that’s only a wild shot.

Much love, dearest Mildred, to you both.

R. T.

Please return to me the photos. of the Chau. de BrézéChâteau de Brézé, near Saumur, owned by Aline, Marquise de Dreux-Brézé, née des Granges de Grammony. tapestries.Probably from the “Voyage to Calicut” tapestry series. After Vasco da Gama’s voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to Calicut in India, King Manuel of Portugal ordered a series of twenty-six tapestries to commemorate the event from the Tournai tapestry-maker Gilles le Castre. The series was completed in 1504, and due to its popularity, many related pieces were made. See letter of October 4, 1930. I had your wire saying the cheque for Stora was on the way.See telegram of January 27, 1931. I’m glad you’ve got that thing.Persepolis relief (BZ.1931.1).

Associated Places: Madrid (Spain); Paris (France); Spain
Associated Artworks: BZ.1931.1; BZ.1931.3