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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, September 5, 1934

Hôtel Beau-Rivage GenèveThe Beau-Rivage Hotel in Geneva was a luxury-class hotel that opened in 1865.


I thought, dearest Mildred, that as you cabled about Gourko’s lamp,This lamp has not been identified. In a letter to Robert Woods Bliss dated August 7, 1934, Dimitri de Gourko describes the Byzantine lamp as bronze, fifth century, and recently found in Constantinople near the Hippodrome. The price asked was 25,000 francs. Byzantine Collection, D. de Gourko correspondence file. I’d better see it before coming here, as otherwise I don’t know when I’d have been in Paris again. So I left Antigny yesterday morn., reached Paris at 2 p.m., saw Gourko (& Stora) & left again for Geneva yest. evening.

You’ll have had my cable. The lamp is quite all right, but dull, & a huge price. I don’t think you’d want it at all. But Gourko’s ringBZ.1934.3. is sweet, with an enameled head of the BV.“Blessed Virgin.” & a lovely inscription dating it mid-XIe. I urged him to have it properly photo’d, as the photos he showed me were useless. I’d advise you getting the ring at Frs. 15000. Gourko showed me photos of several enamels, close relatives of Mrs. Kahn’sAdelaide “Addie” Wolff Kahn, the wife of Otto Hermann Kahn (1867–1934), a German-born American investment banker, collector, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. The gold cloisonné enamels owned by the Kahns—Christ Flanked by the Virgin and Saint John (52.54.1), Crucifixion (52.54.2), Ascension (52.54.3), Saint Michael (52.54.4), Saints Peter and Paul (52.54.5), Saints James and Andrew (52.54.6), Saint Mark (52.54.7), Saint John the Evangelist (52.54.8), Saint Luke (52.54.9), Saint Simon (52.54.10), and Virgin and Child (52.54.11)—are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Royall Tyler believed that many of the Botkin Enamels, enamels formerly owned by the St. Petersburgh collector, Mikhail P. Botkin (1839–1914), were forgeries. See letters of June 8, 1934; June 21, 1934; August 1, 1935; March 9, 1936; and July 5, 1937. See also “The Botkin Collection and the Naïvete of the Educated Consumer,” Before the Blisses: Nineteenth-Century Connoisseurship of the Byzantine Minor Arts, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, accessed September 9, 2015. etc. I wouldn’t touch ‘em at any price.

Stora’s consular diptychBZ.1935.4.a–b. (Philoxenus, A.D. 525) is from the TrivulzioLuigi Alberico Trivulzio (1868–1938), Prince of Musocco and Marchese of Sesto Ulteriano. Trivulzio was responsible for the sale of much of his family’s art collection. coll. Milan, where I saw it 5 years ago. It’s of a most lovely patina, & I like its style. He spoke of Frs. 300,000. Given the excessive rarity of Consular diptychs, the price isn’t a big one. Incidentally, Gourko says the Anastasius diptychThis diptych leaf is probably the right panel to the Victoria and Albert Museum diptych leaf of the Consul Anastasius, 517, ivory, inv. no. 368-1871. The right panel appears to have been cut to separate the seated consul from the bottom scene depicting games, and this lower section remains in Saint Petersburg in the Hermitage Museum (see Richard Delbrueck, Die Consulardiptychen und verwandte Denkmäler [Leipzig: Walter De Gruyter, 1929], 125–26, no. 18). The upper part of this ivory was in Berlin in the 1930s and is believed to have been destroyed during the Second World War. from Petrograd is in Berlin (he wasn’t sure who had it) and that they are asking 2,000,000 Reichmarks for it! It’s more important than the Philoxenus, but still!

However, if Trivulzio is starting to sell, I think you may wish to reserve yourself for that magnificent Xe cent. Christ, ivory,Christ Enthroned, Byzantine, second half of the tenth century, ivory, private collection, Switzerland. See Anthony Cutler, The Hand of the Master, Craftsmanship, Ivory, and Society in Byzantium (Ninth–Eleventh Centuries) (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 45, ills. 46 and 47. which is one of the very finest Byz. things known. It will be a big morsel & how Trivulzio will get it out of Italy I don’t know, but he may try. However (again however) I’m sure you’d love the skin of Philoxenus—a really lovely patina.

Hayford’s old father,Mellen Chamberlain Peirce (1847–1936), was born in Bangor, Maine, and lived there almost all of his life. Early in his life, he was in the wholesale hardware and grocery business. In 1882, he married Anna Hayford (1856–1928), the daughter of William B. and Laura Hayford. After Hayford’s death in 1887, he managed the timberlands and business property of the Hayford estate. He was also a director and officer of the Dirigo Ice Company of Bangor. Mellen and Anna Peirce had three children: Ada Peirce McCormick (1888–1974), a social activist and philanthropist; Hayford; and Waldo Peirce (1884–1970), a painter. from on the same day as Hindenburg,August 2, 1934, the date of the death of Paul von Hindenburg (1847–1934), the German field marshal and politician who served as the second president of Germany between 1925 and 1934. suddenly got terrified about himself, & cabled appealing to H. to return. H. went, 3 days after I reached Antigny. I hope he’ll manage to come to Pest this winter.

I trust Vol. IIL’art byzantin. has reached you.

Much love, dearest Mildred.


R. T.

Associated Places: Geneva [Genève] (Switzerland)
Associated Things: M. & R. Stora, Paris; L'art byzantin
Associated Artworks: BZ.1934.3; BZ.1935.4.a-b