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Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, September 4, 1941

Hôtel de Charlanne

La Bourboule

4 Sept. 1941

Dear Robert,

I want to send you a line in addition to the one addressed to Mildred,Letter of September 3, 1941. and meant for you both, which I trust you’ll get by the same mail as this, to tell you how I rejoiced, and Elisina also, at the good news about you. It has meant a huge difference to my own health, in every way.

About the Coptic wooden panel with the Sacrifice of Abraham,BZ.1941.7. I’d like to add this to what I said in the other letter. Its style is very close to that of the drawing on the finest Fostat potteryFustat (Fostat), the first capital of Egypt under Muslim rule. Between 975 and 1075, Fustat was a major production center for Islamic ceramics and one of the wealthiest cities in the world.—lustre ware especially. The scrolls of the vine in which Abraham’s ram is caught are very reminiscent of Fostat pottery scrolls, and the drawing of the figures reminds me not a little both of Fostat and of the most enchanting of the Rhages luster ware drawings. Also, the colour and patina of the panel are intoxicating. Great as my confidence is in the ability of so unusual an object to protect itself on the Am. market, I can’t always sleep at night thinking of the dangers that panel runs—indeed it may have succumbed already. But if it hasn’t, do have a try for it. And do consider the possibility of using the D.O. refusal as we used from Marquet’s adverse opinion in the case of the 3-fig. ivory.BZ.1939.8. Perfectly legitimate, in both cases, I claim. We certainly didn’t seek to provoke an unfavourable verdict from Marquet, nor did we from the D.O. board. Rather—very much, indeed—the contrary, certainly in the latter case. The great art of life is to convert one’s disappointments into opportunities ¿no es verdad, compadre?“Isn’t it, friend?”

I’ll just add that it would do my eyes good to see a few lines of your writing, sometime when you feel so inclined.

Much love, dear Robert



Associated Artworks: BZ.1939.8; BZ.1941.7