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Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, June 3, 1937

74 Portland PlaceThis is the address of the apartment of John Hugh Smith in London. Smith (1873–1953) was an American expatriate banker, art collector, Francophile, and literary devotee. Smith was a close friend of Henry James and Edith Wharton.



Dear Robert.

Many thanks for your letter of the 22nd May.

It was very dear of you—Mildred to have had that flattering thought about Bill.See letter of May 22, 1937. Well, he’ll now be starting work as soon as his labor permit comes in.

It would be wonderful if I could join you for part of the tripTo Greece. See letter of May 22, 1937. you contemplate in Oct. I’ll bear it in mind, & try to tilt the board in that direction; but it’s impossible to be sure now.

I’m fearfully rushed here—negosiations on the whole range of our foreign debts. I think we may succeed in reaching an agreement for 3 years, which would be a big step forward.

No, Hayford gave me no intimations beforehand.About his marriage. He probably feared (with reason) that I’d take desperate steps to prevent him. Well—he says he hopes to get over this summer to work on Tome IV.L'art byzantin. We’ll see.

I think I told you that the companion pieceRaising of Lazarus, ivory, Bode Museum, Berlin, inv. no. 578. See Adolph Goldschmidt and Kurt Weitzmann, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.–XIII. Jahrhunderts, vol. 2, Reliefs (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1934), 28, no. 14, pl. 4. In his letter of July 5, 1937, Royall Tyler writes, “I made a mistake when I said that the companion piece to your doubting Thomas was in Nürnberg. It is certainly the one from Berlin.” to the Stora Nürnberg ivoryBZ.1937.7.—from the same museum,Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg. had been offered to V. Now I got a letter from a Rome dealer—BorelliBorelli has not been identified. In his letter of July 5, 1937, Royall Tyler gives his name as Borley.—offering it to me. I’ve answered B. I’m not interested—& have asked V. to try to get it at about half the price (Lire 70,000) asked by B. It’s good, as you may see in Goldschmidt: Doubting Thomas [sic].Royall Tyler means Raising of Lazarus and not Doubting Thomas, the ivory that the Blisses already owned.

Sorry the jaspe sanguineThis cameo of Saint John Chrysostom has not been identified. In a letter to Robert Woods Bliss, dated December 26, 1936, Maurice Stora described the cameo as “I camée jaspe sanguine, XIIe siècle, dont on demande 25,000 francs français.” (Blood jasper cameo of the 12th century, for which 25,000 French francs is asked.) Byzantine Collection dealer files, M. & R. Stora correspondence. didn’t turn up.

Glad to hear about the smaller Melk altar.BZ.1937.16. I don’t care enormously for the Mallon head.BZ.1937.13.

I’ll send StephenBZ.1937.19. as soon as I have half an hour to get him properly packed & insured. No, don’t send me a cheque. I’ve got funds in hand for present purposes.

I understand what you say about the Stora bowlThis bowl has not been identified. & Kaleb. bird,This little Byzantine bronze bird has not been identified. etc. I think you’re right.

No further news about the round emperor reliefBZ.1937.23.—except that F. is on the job, for that & Gotha.See letters of April 8, 1937 [2]; April 9, 1937 [1]; April 9, 1937 [2]; April 16, 1937 [1]; April 16, 1937 [2]; May 22, 1937; June 3, 1937; June 16, 1937; June 26, 1937; July 6, 1937; July 25, 1937; August 21, 1937; September 4, 1937; October 25, 1937 [1]; November 23, 1937; December 13, 1937 [3]; February 28, 1938; March 31, 1938; July 10, 1938; July 29, 1938; August 10, 1938; August 16, 1938 [2]; December 20, 1938; and January 3, 1939.

I quite agree that the price quoted for the Dresden-Hannover ivoriesSee letters of March 1, 1937; April 6, 1937; April 9, 1937 [2]; July 25, 1937; August 18, 1937; August 21, 1937; September 4, 1937; September 11, 1937; December 13, 1937; and December 20, 1937. was absurd. I think we may be able to do far better than that. Also for the lion silk.Lion Silk, Byzantine, late tenth–early eleventh century, Saint Heribert Diocesan Museum, Cologne-Deutz. The twelfth-century shrine of Saint Heribert, archbishop of Cologne (d. 1021), at Saint Heribert, Cologne-Deutz, has an imperial Byzantine lion silk with an inscription suggesting a date of ca. 976–1025 for the textile. See Michael Brandt and Arne Eggebrecht, Bernward von Hildesheim und das Zeitalter der Ottonen, vol. 2 (Hildesheim, 1993), no. II-19.

I showed StephenBZ.1937.19. to Eric, who liked it very much, & agreed that it might well be Ragusan—or at any rate from the L. west of the Adriatic, & around 1200.

Entendu“Understood.” that all commissions—Roman friend & F.—will be included in any price agreed on.

I shall be obligated, if you cable me asking if Bill has left home, to try to ascertain whether the original of that pictureCode for the emperor roundel, BZ.1937.23. has left it’s mooring or not.The emperor roundel (BZ.1937.23) was still in the “Klosterhof” of the Schloss Glienicke in Berlin-Potsdam. See Gerd-H. Zuchold, Der “Klosterhof” des Prinzen Karl von Preussen im Park von Schloss Glienicke (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1993), 1:69–72. I think I can do so.

Much love to you & Mildred.


R. T.

Bill seems very well & cheerful, also Betsy. The bratRoyall Tyler (b. 1936), the first child of Bettine Tyler and William Royall Tyler, was born in London. After earning a BA in Far Eastern Languages from Harvard University and a PhD in Japanese literature from Columbia University, he became a scholar and translator of Japanese literature. He presently lives in Australia in New South Wales. is at Sherborne.The Fisher-Rowe home at Leweston Manor near Sherborne, Dorset.

When your letter arrived, I was staying with Niemeyer,Sir Otto Ernst Niemeyer (1883–1971), an English banker and financial controller at the treasury and a director at the Bank of England. who spoke of you with affection.

Associated Places: London (United Kingdom)