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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, February 11, 1933

Finance Ministry

I’m longing for news of you, dearest Mildred; in the meantime I’ll send you mine.

I’m very much torn in my mind: I really should go to Greece this spring or summer, there are any number of things I want to see again before starting on Vol. Ill and esp. Vols. IV–V.L’art byzantin. On the other hand, I want to go to the USA, and I’m seriously thinking of doing so. The best time for me to make my trip would be just after the May meeting of the Fin. Ctee.,On October 25, 1920, the League of Nations had appointed an Advisory Economic and Financial Committee composed of two sections of ten members each and tasked with “the working out of measures of an economic and financial nature which have been submitted for adoption by Members of the League in accordance with the Covenant of the League.” as in the summer one can’t get at people, and in the autumn Hayford can be in Europe, and in the winter it’s very hard for me to get away. But I don’t want to plan any time without knowing whether you are likely to be in USA at that time—late May–June—or not. So please, when you get this, take up your pen and write me, if only a couple of lines, telling me what the prospects are. I want to see The Oaks with you.

Of course Bill will be going over in the Autumn—but I don’t particularly want to go with him, as I think he’ll probably get more out of it if he’s by himself.

Now, another matter. As you know, the Tesoro di San Marco,The Treasury of Saint Mark's includes a number objects from the churches and palaces of Constantinople. The oldest part of the collection was formed after 1204 and the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders, when many objects of sumptuary art were brought to Venice from Constantinople. See H. R. Hahnloser, ed.,Il tesoro di San Marco, 2 vols. (Florence: Sansoni, 1965–1971). which contains a goodly part of the Treasure of S. Sophia looted by the IVe Crusade, is shown in old cases, with insufficient room and light, the objects piled one on top of the other and wretchedly hard to see.

MarangoniLuigi Marangoni (1872–1950), an Italian architect and the proto or custodian of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice. See Otto Demus, The Church of San Marco in Venice: History, Architecture, Sculpture (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1960), 198. has a plan worked out, and approved by the Chapter, to put in proper cases, in which the objects would be well shown and easy to study. It would cost some 30,000 Lire, and the work could be begun at any moment.

If you felt inclined to give this sum to S. Marco you would be opening up great new fields of study—there’s more of Byz. art in that Treasure, in portable objects, than in the rest of the world put together, almost—and rendering an immense service to students. You would also be benefactors of S. Marco, and that’s much. I have in hand about £460 belonging to you,For details of the financial relationship between Royall Tyler and the Blisses, see “Art Collection” in Argentina, Budapest, and Paris (1928–1933): An Introduction. which at present exchange rates about makes the sum. It is quite possible, I fear, that the Lira may go off gold: if it did, one might be able to buy Lire at a discount and make a saving there—but one would have to act quick, before the internal prices caught up.

The Ital. Govt. is having to spend huge sums on the rebuilding of the inner structure of S. Mark’s,Beginning in 1905, the architect Manfredo Manfredi (1859–1927) and the engineer Luigi Marangoni (1872–1950) were charged with the task of making a thorough technical examination of Saint Mark’s and undertaking such repairs that they might find urgent. See “The Present Condition of St. Mark’s,” The American Architect and Building News 87, no. 1517 (January 21, 1905): 22. and there is no chance, I think, of their supplying 30,000 Lire for the Tesoro.

Of course I haven’t given the faintest hint of this to Marangoni—but he’d be a happy boy. Just think it over and let me know.

Bless you, dearest Mildred.

Ever yours truly
R. T.

Associated People: Hayford Peirce; William Royall Tyler
Associated Things: L'art byzantin