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Mildred Barnes Bliss to Royall Tyler, January 6, 1930

The American Embassy
Buenos Aires
January 6th, 1930.Monday.

Dearest Royall,

Forgive the form of this, and also its brevity.

I am submerged, and can’t write as I would like to, but get this off to you I must and shall, as we leave here Saturday, to sail up the West Coast from Valparaiso to Santa Barbara, reaching there February 8th. Unless the skies fall, we shall be in Washington a month later, sailing from New York the first days of April for a week in London, then a fortnight in Paris, and returning here before the 25th of May, we hope. Send all cables to us Milrobert, New York, and letters C/o Mr. Ellis Russell,Ellis Russell, Robert Woods Bliss’s secretary in New York. Secretary, 49, Wall Street, New York.

I know you have despaired of me this winter, or rather this summer for you, and I don’t wonder, and am sorry, but I have not been able to keep my head more than barely above water, and somehow I find it difficult to write a note. It would be such fun to have a long talk that I keep waiting for the day when I might think on paper, and that day never comes. The pressure and disorganization of the life here is despairing, and sometimes I quail under it, and say to myself, ‘How long, O Lord, how long?’, but on the other hand the post is so full of interest that it is worth the effort, and as we feel we have gained ground, I suppose that is the most one can expect.

Now to begin backwards. Your last cable, ‘Déconseille acquisition mosaïque’,See telegram of December 18, 1929: “Discourage acquisition mosaic.” See also letters of December 14, 1929; December 17, 1929 [1]; December 17, 1929 [2]; December 26, 1929; and March 1, 1930. was a frank satisfaction, and coincided with our ‘hunch’, and also relieved our minds of any potential regrets. We at once cabled Vignier that we were ‘désolés’,“Sorry.” and Robert has written. I suppose he will be inveighing against us, and may vent his displeasure by not giving us first choice at a good object for some time to come. However, one can’t palliate him to the tune of that mosaic!

I have got your letters before me, since the one which came in July, and most interesting and delightful reading they make, as well as turning us green with envy. Of course, we shall meet in London or Paris, and have a field day devoted to ‘res publicae’,“Public matters.” and others to our pet vices, so I will only mention here that we were very much diverted by the story of the capital,Capital with the Sacrifice of Isaac, Romanesque, ca. 1150, limestone, Île-de-France, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. A.6-1968. See letter of July 24, 1929. and warmly congratulate Elisina. I suppose it is at Antigny, and we are longing to see it.

Very interesting, the price now being asked by Kelekian for the Kalebjian Scythian stuff.See letter of September 28, 1929.

The Loo bronzeSee letter of September 18, 1929. is now here, and we are wrestling with ourselves about it. We have had Chinese indigestion for two years now, and the last expedition through Eumo’sGeorge Aristides Eumorfopoulos (1864–1939), a Greek merchant and art collector of mainly Chinese, but also medieval, art. maze gave us a real surfeit. On the other hand, I think the bronze a really fine object in itself, and, unfortunately, to me it is beautiful as well. If I could only find fault with it, things would be simpler to decide, but I like its line, its colour, its nervous civilized accents, and feel that I can’t possibly make up my mind, either to purchase, or to relinquish it, until I have lived for months with it, and that, alas!, cannot be.

Thanks for the tale of Kalebjian at the Rosenberg sale.See letter of September 18, 1929. Cheerful little side-light! Who indeed can outwit that kind of a hybrid?

Pierre DenisPierre Denis (1883–1951), a French diplomat, banker, and author who assisted Daniel Serruys in the drafting of various economic clauses in the Versailles Treaty after the First World War. This led to a brief diplomatic career where he spent seven years as assistant secretary to the Reparation Committee at the League of Nations secretariat. In 1926, he became an employee of the Paris branch of the New York-based Blair Bank. By 1929, he was the author of several books, including La République Argentine: La mise en valeur du pays (Paris: Armand Colin, 1920), which was published in English as The Argentine Republic, Its Development and Progress (London: T. F. Unwin Ltd., 1922). is here, also the son of David Weill.David David-Weill (1871–1952), an American-born French investment banker and partner in the Paris office of Lazard Frères, the family’s bank. He was a collector, especially of Chinese cloisonné enamel objects. His son, Pierre David-Weill (1900–1975) was also a French investment banker who became a partner at Lazard Frères in 1927. The ‘little mouse’ delights us, and is all you say, and I should like to see him when less oppressed than he now is by the banking situation, which has been very worrisome here of late, as you doubtless know!

We shall have a very great deal to talk over when we meet. Laconic Robert is becoming almost eloquent!

You see how our minds work in the same channel, because our cable ‘magnum opus’ of December 14th crossed yours of the next day.See telegrams of December 14, 1929, and December 15, 1929 [1]. You probably thought us dippy to supplement it, but meantime advice had come about other stuff. Hence our supplementary message of the 15thSee telegram of December 15, 1929 [2].

Do you know the ‘Jaeger’Jaeger has not been identified. The enclosed letter is not included in the Tyler Papers. of the enclosed letter? And what standing has he?

Tell Elisina I am writing about Bill and Pitzy. Robert and I constantly talk of my ‘Bourguignon,’ full of admiration for his parents’ equanimity and the common sense with which they have handled a situation which would have cut the ground from the feet of less controlled people. Bill himself seems to have been splendidly sane and cheerful, and in the long run will probably get far more out of this year than if he had spent it in any other way. Luckily it comes at an age when he is sufficiently alive to many contacts not to tire his mind by keeping it in one groove, and with such eclectic reading as he is doing, and German thrown in, I don’t believe any of you will have anything to regret.See letters of August 11, 1929; September 18, 1929; and September 28, 1929.

I am sending you, to make you thoroughly sympathetic, an example of the Sunday press, and what art can do in Argentina, as well as a copy of two of the ‘vida literaria,’“Literary life.” and effigies of my colleagues. I feel no comment is necessary on any of these subjects!

You might go in to Abdy’s,Sir Robert Henry Edward Abdy (1896–1976), a collector and the descendent of a family of collectors. He became a dealer who in the latter 1920s had a business, Abdy and Co., in London and was associated with Ffoulkes & Co. (Société Anonyme Ffoulkes) in Paris. and ask him to show you a GuardiIn 1927, the Blisses acquired Francesco Guardi’s Bacino di San Marco (ca. 1780–1790), oil on canvas, from Robert Abdy (Société Anonyme Ffoulkes [Abdy and Co.], London). The painting was later sold and is now in the Stiftung Sammlung E. G. Bührle, Zurich. of which he has just sent us a photograph—67 cm. x 101. It is an unusual composition, and looks to be quite charming.

Dear, Dear GrowlerMildred Barnes Bliss’s nickname for Royall Tyler.—I can’t dictate all of the currents & incidents that have so weightened these 6 mos. Neither can I write long hand. We shall talk soon & there is much to say. I will only mention that one of our erstwhile closest alliesThis person has not been identified. has been a keen deception to us & that professionally Robert is doing well & gaining ground steadily & surely. The Press improved, the Colony appreciative, the Govt. anti-capitalistic but personally cordial & ‘le monde’“Society,” literally “the world.” aff. & very kind. We are exhausted & this exodus is exceptionally harassing.

Mother has reached Paris en route to India!In 1929–1930, Anna Barnes Bliss traveled around the world. Papa keeps well. I haven’t read a book for months & long to be free. Voila!“Here!” All of wh. explains why, of all the years I sh. have been in especially close touch with you & Elisina, I have been most distant. Bill is ever present in my heart & thoughts. I know what his illness has meant to you both & I am nearer you than you know.

For Heaven’s sake keep on writing fully abt. him & yrselves, & Antigny & Hayford & the exhibitions & the publica[tions]. We are emptied & hungry & seeming to have exhausted our capital save spiritually, for in that respect we have both deepened. Middle age has many alleviating compensations, I find.

Bless you & my heart to you three.


The Swedish bookMildred Barnes Bliss worked on a book concerning Sweden that was never published. The manuscript for this book has not been located. has poisoned my life but is now approaching the end, praise Allah.

Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères