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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, July 10, 1938


Par Arnay-le-Duc

(Côte d’Or)


First of all, dearest Mildred, I’m determined to do Dumbarton Oaks PapersDumbarton Oaks Papers, an annual journal founded in 1941 by the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection for the publication of articles relating to late antique, early medieval, and Byzantine civilization. No. 1,Tyler published in the second volume of the Dumbarton Oaks Papers; see Hayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, Three Byzantine Works of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 2 (1941). and am writing today to Mrs. Sessions whose letter of 23 June I only got 2 days ago at Geneva by this same post to that effect.Royall Tyler wrote Barbara Sessions from Antigny on July 10, 1938: “Your letter of June 23d only reached me two days ago. I’ve escaped here for the week-end, and seize my first free moment to reply. I can’t disappoint Mrs. Bliss about Dumbarton Oaks Papers No 1. We may have to ask the Harvard Press for a little allowance of time, but as soon as I dispose of one more Ctee, this week, I’ll set to work on it. Elephant-tamer silk which I think makes a good subject, as it is hitherto unpublished, and stands quite alone, no other silk exactly like it being known to me. Mrs. Bliss will have had a letter I wrote to her from the Queen Mary. In view of the considerations therein, I propose to send my MS on the Elephant-tamer to Peirce, and to tell him to forward it in the shortest time possible to you. If you want him to send it direct to the Harvard Press, please instruct him accordingly.” I’ll do it or bust. I can’t live with the idea of failing you in that.

After much thought, I’ve chosen the Elephant-tamer silk,BZ.1927.1. See Hayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, “Elephant Tamer Silk, VIIIth Century,” in Three Byzantine Works of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 2 (1941): 19–26. as unpublished, unique, mysterious, and coming from that intriguing no man’s land, the VIIIe–lXe centuries. Of course you have many more imposing things, but they’ve either been published before, or fit in perfectly with other well-known material. Not that there won’t be plenty to say about them, but the Elephant-tamer is a virgo intacta,“Untouched.” and I think in every way suitable to head the list. I hope you agree.

I’ve just had a hellish week at Geneva. I didn’t leave the boîte,“Office.” Friday night, till 2 a.m. (Sat., yesterday morn). And I have a few more days of heavy work this week, but I’ll start on the paperHayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, “Elephant Tamer Silk, VIIIth Century,” in Three Byzantine Works of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 2 (1941): 19–26. the moment I can, and I trust I may be able to finish it quickly. In view of the shortness of time, I propose to send my draft to Hayford, with instructions to cable me any changes he considers vital, and to forward immediately to you. I can’t guarantee the Harvard Press will get it by 1 Aug., but I’ll do my best. If, after reading the letter I wrote you from the Queen Mary, you don’t want Hayford’s signature (with mine) on the paper, please cable me (Nations Geneva). In that case I won’t send my draft to Hayford—but I hope very much you’ll agree to the paper being done by the Old Firm. In effect, it will all be mine—but . . . you know how one feels.

Many thanks for your cableThis cable has not been preserved. about the Fiedler cheque. I saw F., between sittings, yesterday. He still has hopes of GothaSee letters of April 8, 1937; April 8, 1937; April 9, 1937; April 9, 1937; April 16, 1937; April 16, 1937; 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; November 23, 1937; December 13, 1937; February 28, 1938; March 31, 1938; July 29, 1938; August 10, 1938; August 16, 1938; December 20, 1938; and January 3, 1939. and the 2 Dresdens, on the basis of 20, and will do his best.

He has, he says, a perfect approach to the owner of the Goldene TafelCrucifixion, Byzantine, first half of the twelfth century, gold and enamel, Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich. See Klaus Wessel, Byzantine Enamels from the Fifth to the Thirteenth Century (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society Ltd., 1967), 166–67, no. 51, pl. 51. (Munich), and he’d be able to proceed if he had a firm offer. You know the object, at least by photo. It’s one of the biggest and most celebrated Byz. enamels. I’ve often written Robert what I think of it: I don’t consider it of the finest, but it is of course of unimpeachable origin. If you are interested in it, now’s the time. Any offer would have to be a big one: if I remember right. DreyThe firm of A. S. Drey was founded in Munich in the 1860s by Aaron S. Drey. The firm later expanded to London and New York. In New York, Aaron Drey’s grandson, Paul Drey (1885–1953), was a senior partner of the Paul Drey Gallery, founded in 1920. spoke to Robert of some astronomical sum like $200,000. That’s nonsense, of course, but I don’t think one could even start at less than $50,000. Please think it over, and let me know. No immediate hurry, but also well not to delay too long.

The Pr. L. Mad.BZ.1938.62. sails on the City of Baltimore, tomorrow, 11th July. How I wish I might be there when she arrivas!

As for Pr. L’s pedigree, ecco:“Here it is.” (Of course keep this out of the files on the Emp.BZ.1937.23. and Mad.,BZ.1938.62. for the present). Pr. L’s father was Pr. Friedrich Leopold,Prince Friedrich Leopold (1865–1931). brother-in-law and cousin of Big Willie.Prince Friedrich Leopold (1865–1931) married Princess Louise Sophie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1866–1952), who was a sister of Emperor Wilhelm II’s wife, the Empress Auguste Viktoria (1858–1921). His grandfather was Pr. Friedrich Karl,Prince Friedrich Karl (1828–1885). and his great-grandfather (the collector) was Pr. Karl,Prince Karl (1801–1883). brother of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV,Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1795–1861). later Kaiser Wilhelm I.

I asked F. to get all available data on when Emp.BZ.1937.23. and Mad.BZ.1938.62. were bought, where, and what buildings they came from.

I also asked him to try and negociate the stags’ relief,Stags and vase relief, probably marble. See Gerd-H. Zuchold, Der “Klosterhof” des Prinzen Karl von Preussen im Park von Schloss Glienicke in Berlin (Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1993), 1: 1, pl. 122 and 2:148, no. 130. the upright birds reliefTree of Life and three pairs of animals and birds, third quarter of the twelfth century, marble, Schloss Glienicke, Potsdam-Berlin. See Gerd-H. Zuchold, Der “Klosterhof” des Prinzen Karl von Preussen im Park von Schloss Glienicke in Berlin (Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1993), 1: pl. 59b and 2:73, no. 52. and the hare-and-grapes reliefTwo fragments of a relief, possibly marble, Klosterhof, Schloss Glienicke, Berlin. These are not catalogued in Gerd-H. Zuchold, Der “Klosterhof” des Prinzen Karl von Preussen im Park von Schloss Glienicke in Berlin (Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1993). ($5000 the lot).

And now about Elisina.Elisina Tyler had suffered “apolplexy,” probably a stroke, in May 1938. See also letters of June 18, 1938; June 28, 1938; July 2, 1938; July 13, 1938; and July 29, 1938. She is recovering slowly—the doctor says another 2 months convalescence (which perhaps means 3–4) and then she should be all right—as far as she can be now. She’ll of course have to take it very easy, from now on. She stood the journey up here pretty well, taking 4 days on the way. She only arrived the day before yesterday, one day before I came. She speaks pretty well, her face shows no sign (as far as I can tell at present), her mind is clear. Her articulation is a bit slow—and what hurts most is a change in the tone—the timbre of her voice.

On the whole, she is progressing as well as it would be reasonable to hope, and it’s a great relief to have got her here. She is cheerful, a good patient. Thank God, Germaine is perfect with her, and endlessly resourceful. For the time being, I think it’s just as well that I shouldn’t be here all the time, as Elisina probably needs all the rest she can get. A bit later, she is having a few people to stay, one or two at a time. I hope to come for a day or so, now and then, and for a bit more towards the second half of August.

Blessings on you, dearest one—let me know when the MadonnaBZ.1938.62. is there, please, and how she appeals to you. Love to Robert


R. T.

A letter from Bill, of the 7th inst. He has seen Hofer,Philip Hofer (1898–1984), a bibliophile and collector of books. Hofer was a Harvard University librarian and the first curator of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Houghton Library, beginning in 1938. and Hofer has written to Sachs.William Royall Tyler was interested in enrolling in the museum studies program at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. No sign yet from Sachs.

Associated Artworks: BZ.1927.1; BZ.1937.23; BZ.1938.62