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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, December 13, 1930

29, rue d’Astorg
F Anjou 16–88

Dearest Mildred,

I am sending you herewith enclosed a photograph of a relief from Persepolis, one of four which Stora has at present, and which strikes me as the most beautiful I have ever seen. Stora has refused to send it to the Persian exhibition in London. He is sending two of the series, but not this one. What is so extraordinarily fine about it is the cutting of the drapery, the technical mastery and the amazing state of preservation. The close-grained, dark gray marble has a patina like that of the finest early Chinese bronze containing an alloy of antimony, and has perfectly kept its surface, its skin, which is most delectable to the touch. The photograph may give you some hint of this, but I can assure you that the object itself would astound you. It is to my mind quite by itself among Achaemenian reliefs.The capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BCE) was Persepolis, a city founded by King Darius I in 515 BCE. Under his son, Xerxes, the city rose on terraces supporting columned halls, many of which were decorated with reliefs of nobles, guards, tribute-bearers, and scenes of lion hunts and lions attacking bulls. Stora tells me that the lowest price he could consider would be $15.000. Bad as times are, the little man seems to be doing some business. Please let me know whether you feel like making an offer, and if you don’t, return the photograph. By the way please also send me back the photograph of the Brézé tapestries.Probably from the “Voyage to Calicut” tapestry series. After Vasco da Gama’s voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to Calicut in India, King Manuel of Portugal ordered a series of twenty-six tapestries to commemorate the event from the Tournai tapestry-maker Gilles le Castre. The series was completed in 1504, and due to its popularity, many related pieces were made. See letter of October 4, 1930.

I am also sending you a photograph of a very good little Asia Minor carpetThis carpet has not been identified. which Kalebdjian has. Please also let me know whether it interests you.

The Byzantine exhibition Committee is constituted, and all the bonzes“Big cheeses.” have consented to serve on it. We are assured of getting what we want from the Louvre, the Cluny and the Cabinet des Médailles, and we have the Arts Décoratifs to hold the exhibition in, as from the beginning of June. As far as France goes, the only doubtful point is the manuscript department of the Bibliothèque Nationale. OmontHenri Auguste Omont (1857–1940), a French librarian, philologist, and historian. He was inspector general of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. is always hostile to any exhibition, and makes no exception for ours. However, the Administrator of the Bibliothèque Nationale is on our Committee, and will do his best, which ought to be good enough considering that he is Omont’s chief.

We greatly need your Coptic tapestry, and beg you to let us have it. I am afraid that having it sent over will be a troublesome matter, but in a way it will be the clou“Showpiece.” of the exhibition, and I think you will feel rewarded. We should like to be able to count on its presence in Paris well before the exhibition opens. Perhaps the best way would be to have it sent to Mademoiselle Malye,Thérèse Malye (1886–1951), Mildred Barnes Bliss’s Parisian secretary. where it might stay until it can be set up in the place reserved for it.

Pope has just sent me declaration forms to fill in for the Persian objects he wants for the exhibition in London.International Exhibition of Persian Art, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London, January 7–February 28, 1931. See Persian Art: An Illustrated Souvenir of the Exhibition of Persian Art at Burlington House, London, 1931 (London: Hudson and Kearns, 1931). See letter of December 6, 1930. I am asking him to insure them for the following values:

Why he wants the T’ang bowl I do not know. Pope asked if you would pay the insurance but I told him that I understood that the exhibition was paying where private collectors were concerned, and only dealers were insuring for themselves, and Pope said that the exhibition would pay.

When I saw Pope about a week ago the Russians had not yet sent the things they had promised, and, if they do not send them it will be a blow for the exhibition as the Russian loan has been so much advertised. The people here who have had anything to do with organizing the exhibition say that they have been put to a disproportioned amount of trouble and complain of the organizers, Pope in particular. Koechlin has washed his hands of the whole thing. Pope’s version is that Kelekian and Vignier pretended to take an interest in the exhibition in order to get themselves given a mandate to chose [sic] things from the other dealers and improve the occasion to spy out everything their rivals had in stock, thereby setting all the other dealers by the ears. All the same, the exhibition is likely to be of enormous interest, and I shall certainly go over to see it.

I’m just off to London for a few days, & after that I hope to take some much needed rest. I’ve not felt so low for I don’t know how long. I’m going to crawl off to Mrs. Stuart-Menteath & lie doggo. There’s some bich [sic] in the old man still, however, and it will show again before long.

Bless you, dearest Mildred

R. T.

I see Mrs. McLeanMrs. John Reginald (Kathleen Burke) McLean married Girard Van Barkaloo Hale in 1930. is marrying one Hale, a painter.Girard Van Barkaloo Hale (1886–1958), a landscape, portrait, and mural artist. Do you know him? I’m glad she is marrying and have written to tell her so.