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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, June 3, 1932

Finance Ministry

Here I am again in B-pest, dearest Mildred, after having carotté’d“Wangled.” 3 days in Venice on the way. Position getting more and more difficult, and nothing concrete appearing to permit one to hope for alleviation. The Spring months and early summer, just before the harvest, always were the worst time here, and this year they are particularly bad: people getting adventurous, even in quarters where sang froid“Calmness.” Literally, “cold blood.” is most needed—and obligatory.

In London, there was a show, at Spink’s, of the Treasure of Mainz Cath.The Treasure of the Cathedral of Mainz, Spink & Son, Ltd., London, May 3–27, 1932. See Tancred Borenius, “A Loan Exhibition of Medieval Art,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 60, no. 350 (May 1932): 252–59. An attempt, on the part of the Chapter,Cathedral chapter, a college of clerics formed to advise a bishop. to raise some funds—they charged 2/6 admittance. There were some very fine things, but mostly XIV–XV, and not much in our line; German tapestries and paintings. But I got for you the enclosed photo, of the so-called Gisela brooches,Pair of jewelled brooches in gold filigree set with pearls, amethysts, and sapphires, early eleventh century, Mainz Cathedral. See Tancred Borenius, “A Loan Exhibition of Medieval Art,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 60, no. 350 (May 1932): 258, pl. II. which are extremely beautiful. I had a talk with “Our Capt. Jack” (Spink),Captain Jack Spink, a partner at Spink & Son, Ltd., the London auction house. who cooed in my ear that the Chapter might consider an offer: £3,700 for the two.

I then went to see Eric. He would be disposed to take one of the brooches, if you wanted the other, and the price suggested by Our Capt. Jack, or something in that neighbourhood, doesn’t seem very high for things of such quality.

However, since I left London, Our Capt. Jack has told Eric that the Chapter are now unwilling to sell at the figure he mentioned to me, and want £5000 for the two. Both Eric and I think the Chapter had better stew in their own juice for a bit, so we are keeping cara de piedra,“Stone faced.” and aren’t interested while the Chapter are in their present frame of mind.

It would be a long business anyway, as the Chapter would have to get the permission of the Pope.

You might just let me know how you feel, en principe, about the brooches, which are marvels (gold filigree, pearls, amethysts and saphires). But I should also tell you that Our Capt. Jack told me that there is a plan to hold, in London, another exhibition containing the Treasures of several German Cathedrals. If that is really done, it will mean that the participating Caths. will want to sell, and that BYZ objects of overwhelming quality may be going. Think of the Bamberg XIe cent. silk TapestryGunther Tapestry, Constantinople, tenth century, Bamberg Diocesan Museum. The so-called Gunthertuch was either purchased or received as a gift by Bishop Gunther von Bamberg during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1064–1065. Gunther died on his return journey and was buried with it in the Bamberg Cathedral. The textile was rediscovered in 1830. See Günter Prinzing, “Das Bamberger Gunthertuch in neuer Sicht,” Byzantinoslavica 54 (1993): 218–31; and Paul Stephenson, The Legend of Basil the Bulgar-slayer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 62–65.—perhaps the most beautiful textile in existence! However, those brooches are very succulent, and I can’t refrain from telling you about them.

Elisina is having a superb time in Greece. She has had a fortnight in Athens and the Peloponnesus, and today should be at St. Luke in PhocisHosios Loukas, a Middle Byzantine monastery founded in Phocis in the tenth century and now near the town of Distomo in Boetia, Greece. The monastery is famous for its mosaics. and tonight at Delphi. Then to Saloniki, and then to Constantinople. From there she is returning here, stopping to see the Museum at Sofia and taking the boat up the Danube through the Iron Gate and Kazan Pass. Not a bad trip. I had long felt guilty that she had never been on any of my trips to Greece and CP with me.

No more for the moment, dearest Mildred; what can one say when those B-Boches“Boche” was a derogatory word for “German” during the First World War. go and make v. PapenFranz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen (1879–1969), a German politician and and diplomat who served as chancellor of Germany in 1932. Reichskanzler?

R. T.

My Vol. IL’art byzantin. will be out in a couple of days. I’ve ordered a copy to be sent to you—and one to the Cr. Pr. of Sweden.Crown Prince Oscar Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf (1882–1973) later reigned as Gustaf VI Adolf, king of Sweden, from 1950 until his death. He was a devoted archaeologist and participated in archaeological expeditions in China, Greece, and Italy, and founded the Swedish Institute in Rome.

Associated People: Elisina Tyler; Eric Maclagan
Associated Things: L'art byzantin