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Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, March 9, 1936 [2]



Dear Robert.

I’m delighted that you’ve seen the textile.“Prague Rider Silk,” Chapter Library, Prague Cathedral. It’s certainly VIIe Cent., and I think Byz. and not Sass. I’ve just received proofs of an articleHayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, “The Prague Rider-Silk and the Persian-Byzantine Problem,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 68, no. 398 (May 1936): 213–15, 218–21, and 224. I’ve written for the Burlington arguing (against hitherto accepted opinions) that it is Byz.

The wire from Leigh AshtonSir Leigh Ashton (1897–1983), a British art historian and scholar of Chinese art. Ashton joined the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1922 in the department of Architecture and Sculpture as an assistant keeper (curator). He transferred to the Department of Textiles in 1925 and to the Department of Ceramicsin 1931. He served as director of the Victoria and Albert Museum from 1945 to 1955. is explained as follows: Kalebdjian in Paris wrote me a week ago telling me there were three Byz. enamels in a sale to be held March 11h at Sotheby’s. I wired to George DigbyGeorge Frederick Wingfield Digby (1911–1989) had been a classmate of William Tyler at Harrow. He was later keeper of the Department of Textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1947 and 1972. asking him to see them, and let me and you (at Prague—not here) know. Just after I had wired, I got a letter from George telling me he was leaving for a fortnight abroad. I therefore assumed that he wouldn’t get my wire and wouldn’t do anything about it—but he seems to have had the wire and to have got Ashton onto the job. Well, as their [sic] Botkins,Mikhail Petrovich Botkin (1839–1914), a Russian collector. See Rosalind Polly Gray, “Muscovite Patrons of European Painting: The Collections of Vasily Kokorev, Dmitry Botkin, and Sergei Tretyakov,” Journal of the History of Collections 10, no. 2 (January 1998), 191–92; and Mikhail P. Botkin, Collection M. P. Botkine (Saint Petersburg: Tovarishchestvo R. Golike i A. Vil’borg, 1911, 1911). His collection included a large number of Byzantine enamels, many of which were forged. 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. The Boston enamel referred to by Royall Tyler is probably a Russian imitation of a Byzantine medallion of Saint Nicholas, ca. late nineteenth century–1911, gold cloisonné enamel, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, no. 28.243. See Hanns Swarzenski and Nancy Netzer, Medieval Objects in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Enamels and Glass (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1986), 148–49, no. A1 (technical note by Pamela England). it doesn’t matter. I’ll thank him.

I’m glad you and Mildred like the Cameo.BZ.1936.31. The monogrammes are:

MP = MHTHR (Mother) ϴƔ = ϴЄOU (of God).

Bill’s address is 14 East 90th St.

BuchtelaBuchtela has not been identified. showed me a whole lot of Botkin enamels when I was there. Three of them I consider genuine, but late and poor. The rest I consider false.

Let me have further news as you can give it.


R. T.

Associated People: William Royall Tyler
Associated Places: Budapest (Hungary); Paris (France)
Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères
Associated Artworks: BZ.1936.31