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Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, February 13, 1940

Hôtel de Crillon

Place de la Concorde



My dear Robert,

I’ve just come from London, where I heard that Sothebys are shortly going to sell the things that remained in Eumo’sGeorge Eumorfopoulos. house after his Chinese Colls had gone.The Eumorfopoulos Collections: Catalogue of the Collection of Persian Ceramics & Islamic Glass, Egyptian, Greek and Roman Antiquities, Choice Medieval & Renaissance Works of Art, Etc. (London: Kitchen & Barratt, 1940).

Eric Maclagan is trying to get the Nat. Art Coll. Fund interested in that great Mossoul [sic] inlaid bronze vessel,Basin, Mosul, 1247–49, silver-inlaid bronze, Freer Gallery of Art, acc. no. F1955.10, ex-Duc d’Arenberg Collection, Brussels. See Nuha N. N. Khoury, “Narratives of the Holy Land: Memory, Identity, and Inverted Imagery in the Freer Basin and Canteen,” Orientations 29, no. 5 (May 1998): 63–69. called a holy-water stoup because it is adorned with Christian scenes. But I don’t think the Nat. Art Coll. Fund will put up more than perhaps £500 or £600, and private donations are hard to get now. The object is at least as fine as the celebrated “Baptistère de St. Louis,” in the Louvre.Basin, Egyptian or Syrian, ca. 1320–1340, silver- and gold-inlaid brass, Musée du Louvre, inv. no. LP 16. In peace time, £5000 would have been regarded as nothing for it.

There is also the superb, intact, Rhages plateLuster plate with the scene of Khosrow seeing Shirin at her bath from the Persian tragic romance by the poet Nizami Ganjavi (1141–1209). See Arthur Upham Pope, ed., A Survey of Persian Art, From Prehistoric Times to the Present (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1938), 2:1585 and 5:pl. 708. with a nude lady bathing in a pool—a lot of elders looking on. That also is an A 1 object, which may not bring much now.

And there’s the little IV–V cent. AD Roman bronze,Possibly Saints Peter and Paul, Early Christian, fourth century, bronze. Wolfgang Volbach and GeorgesSalles, Art byzantin: Cent planches reproduisant un grand nombre de pièces choisies parmi les plus représentatives des diverses (Paris: A. Lévy, 1933), 62, pl. 55D. with two saints, which won’t bring much, & which you ought to have.

Date of sale not yet fixed. I’ve asked Sothebys to send you a catalogue as soon as available.

I may be coming over to US very soon, in which case I wouldn’t be able to do anything about these things, personally. I’ll let you know, by wire, as soon as I know dates—both mine & the sale’s. I think you may want to have a go at these things.

In haste, with much love to you both


R. T.

Associated People: Eric Maclagan; George Eumorfopoulos
Associated Places: London (United Kingdom)