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Mildred Barnes Bliss to Royall Tyler, March 11, 1929

3101 R Street
Washington, D.C.
3/11/29Monday.

Dearest Royall:

This typewritten curtness is a poor response to your delightful letters of January 30th, February 5, 9th and 12th, but it is this or nothing. I must tell you that we have turned down the Mallon Byzantine bowls.See also letters of February 5, 1929; February 9, 1929; February 12, 1929 [1]; February 16, 1929; February 28, 1929 [2]; March 27, 1929; and December 26, 1929. The whole matter as seemed to us a little too quick to be as tempting as we should like it to be, although I must say from the photographs I should have liked the ones with the bird and the boat. However, I think there will be other chances.

Your description of the Trivulzio collectionSee letter of January 30, 1929. made our mouths water. I shall try to ascertain to which New York dealer BouboucTawfic Abucasem. See letter of January 30, 1929. sold his silver.

A very nice letter came from Hayford Peirce about the O.L.P. fund.“Old Lady Photographer.” Elisina Tyler established an archive of photographs of Byzantine objects; the project was partly funded by contributions solicited by Mildred Barnes Bliss. See also letters of May 7, 1927; November 20, 1927; May 10, 1928; January 30, 1929; February 28, 1929 [2]; and March 29, 1929 [1]. I shall hope to get you more later.Mrs. Frederick Forrest (Kathleen Burke) Peabody of Santa Barbara, California, donated $500 to the photographic reference library on February 6, 1929. Bliss Papers, HUGFP 38.6, box. 2. I am very glad the Peruvian bottleThis object apparently is no longer in the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art at Dumbarton Oaks. Its identity is not known. See also letter of February 5, 1929. fell to us. It is a good one and cheap.

Cheers for Bill’s monitorship.See letter of January 30, 1929. I see he is not following in his father’s footsteps when it comes to practical jokes.

Please go to the National Gallery and see the mosaic floor by Anrep.Boris Anrep (1883–1969), a Russian artist active in Britain, worked in the medium of mosaic, often in a neo-Byzantine style. Between 1928 and 1952, Anrep created four mosaics for the entrance hall of the National Gallery in London. The two earlier ones are The Labours of Life (west vestibule, 1928) and The Pleasures of Life (east vestibule, 1929). He has now on exhibition some samples of his work showing a variety of techniques and color,—talents truly admirable. Some of it is as fine as good Byzantine work. I imagine the floors are much less interesting. Please don’t let Fettich get married until he has seen the Osjachs [sic],The Ostyaks are peoples living in Siberia. See letter of February 6, 1926. and also until you or he have shown us the tomb of the Avar with his horse, etc.See letter of January 30, 1929. The further one goes in these diggings the more convinced one is that everything is related and all things come from the same root.

Our sailing date is indefinite as the new Secretary of StateHenry L. Stimson (1867–1950), the U.S. secretary of state from March 28, 1929, to March 4, 1933. doesn’t take over his duties until the end of this month. Congress convenes the 15th of April, and they may want Robert to appear before the Commission about the proposed tariff raise as it will affect Argentina.The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act (the Tariff Act of 1930), which was signed into law on June 17, 1930, raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels. The Canadians are up in arms and severe retaliatory measures are announced that may even give our Congress pause and bring them down a bit from this policy of folly.

Ever so many thanks for all the trouble and cables you have taken and sent regarding Mallon.

And now to Brummer. We spent an ecstatic hour with him, only being diverted from the Sassanian statueThis Sasanian bust was described as a fourteen-inch-high bronze bust of a Sasanian king, probably Shahpour I. The Blisses acquired the piece on May 4, 1929, but returned it to Joseph Brummer by June 1930. Joseph Brummer to Mildred Barnes Bliss, February 1, 1929, Byzantine Collection files, Brummer Gallery 1914–1938. See also letters of March 27, 1929; March 29, 1929 [2]; and April 11, 1929. by his incredible language, more picturesque than ever, with every gender wrong and three languages used interchangeably, his eyes popping out of his head. This is how he greeted Robert. ‘Oh, it is you, how nice. My brotherImre Brummer (1895–1928), a cofounder of the Brummer Art Galleries in New York. is dead.’ Robert: ‘I am very sorry to hear that, Brummer, when did it happen?’ Brummer: Last year. I got a fine statue.’

And then we went to it. So you see he is riding true to form. The little statueThis Sasanian bust was described as a fourteen-inch-high bronze bust of a Sasanian king, probably Shahpour I. The Blisses acquired the piece on May 4, 1929, but returned it to Joseph Brummer by June 1930. Joseph Brummer to Mildred Barnes Bliss, February 1, 1929, Byzantine Collection files, Brummer Gallery 1914–1938. See also letters of March 27, 1929; March 29, 1929 [2]; and April 11, 1929. in question, of which I enclose a photograph, is exceedingly interesting and vigorous. As you see, it isn’t a thing of beauty but it seems to be a perfect specimen of the period and is certainly rare. He also has a Sassanian incense burner with a little frieze of ducks,A fifth-century bronze and silver incense burner that Henry Walters acquired from Maurice Nahman in 1930 and bequeathed to the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, in 1931. and another one with the life of Christ in relief,This incense burner is described in the Brummer correspondence to Robert Woods Bliss, March 8, 1929, as: “Byzantine incense burner, with the life of Christ in relief. Found in Egypt. From the Nahman collection. A very remarkable piece $2850.” Byzantine Collection files, Brummer Gallery 1914–1938. from the Nahman collection.Maurice Nahman (1868–1948), chief cashier at the bank of Crédit Foncière and an antiquities dealer in Cairo at 27 Cherif Street. He says this was found in Egypt and it seems to us quite remarkable. The prices are very bad. He also has a bishop’s ring which he thinks Romanesque.Joseph Brummer sold a thirteenth-century gold and malachite bishop’s ring to Henry Walters, Baltimore, reportedly in 1927. Walters Art Museum, acc. no. 57.481. I don’t know why but I have a feeling it is a Renaissance version of an earlier style.

We are to have a field day with him in New York, and I hope to acquire a few chairs which are also very good work.There is no record that the Blisses acquired chairs in New York in 1929. I will tell you more when we have seen the things again.

I also enclose two postcard photographs from the Chicago Museum, one of a Greco, which is a very great and noble picture, and an excellent Gothic Christus.El Greco, The Assumption of the Virgin, 1577–1579, Art Institute of Chicago, 1906.99; and Corpus of Christ, Spanish Catalonia, thirteenth century, Art Institute of Chicago, 1926.120.

Robert is hard at it for his mission and I follow a close second.

Best love to you, Elisina and Bill from the two of us.

[unsigned]