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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, January 17, 1933

21, Quai Bourbon
F Odéon, 31–33

I’ve just arrived here for 3–4 days, dearest Mildred, and I’ve already had a knock—2 in fact.

I went into Stora’s. He has got a big tapestry, decidedly before 1450, representing Hercules, in full armour and mounted, starting the Olympic games (ludos Olympiadis, in the inscription) in which a number of ladies including Hippolyte, reine de Scythie,“Queen of Scythia.” and gentlemen, all mounted, are going to take part.Hercules founding the Olympic Games (also known as Hercules and the Amazons), southern Netherlands, ca. 1425–1450, Burrell Collection, Glasgow. See Guy Delmarcel, Flemish Tapestry from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century (Tielt: Lannoo, 1999), 39–40; and Wolfger A. Bulst, “Das olympische Turnier des Hercules mit den Amazonen. Flämische Tapisserien am Hofe der Este in Ferrara,” in Italienische Frührenaissance und Nordeuropäisches Spätmittelalter: Kunst der Frühen Neuzeit im Europaischen Zusammenhang, ed. Joachim Poeschke (Munich: Himer, 1993), 203–34.

There are some minor repairs at one side, but on the whole the thing is marvellously preserved, and most lovely, rich and delicate in colour and exquisite in drawing. About 5.50 m. long and 4 and a bit high. Stora has promised to send you a photo—which hasn’t yet been taken, as he has only just got (or acquired his interest in) it. Next to the Tarquinius PriscusLucius Tarquinius Priscus (616–578 BCE), fifth king of Rome. panel at Zamora,Life of Tarquinius Priscus, ca. 1475–1485, Cathedral Museum, Zamora. See Juan José Junguera y Mato, Tapisserie de Tournai en Espagne: Tounai, Halle aux Draps; La tapisserie bruxelloise en Espagne au XVIéme siècle (Tournai: Europalia, 1985), 149. it is perhaps the most beautiful XVe cent, tapestry I’ve ever seen, and it’s earlier than T.P. which of course isn’t available, even now. Stora says there’s a companion panel, exactly the same style and by same hand as Hercules, in Mrs. Gardener’s [sic] coll. in Boston.Amazons Preparing for a Joust (also known as Tournement of the Amazons, The Amazon Queens, and Ladies’ Tournament), Franco-Flemish, ca. 1450–1475. See Adolph Cavallo, Textiles, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1986); and Adolph Cavallo, “Seeking a Context for the Amazons Tapestry in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston,” Bulletin de Liaison du CIETA 59–60 (1984): 27–36. Stora said he couldn’t yet quote a price, but would soon.

I say even now—because Stora has just been approached by the Chapter of Zamora with an offer to sell two very beautiful panels, each some 7 m. or more long by 3 or so high, representing incidents fr. the Wars of the Argives, of about 1480. Not a mess of people fighting, but scenes with lots of gentlemen and lovely ladies in velvets.The History of Thebes tapestries, southern Netherlands, after 1475. The tapestries depict Tydeus in Thebes demanding his throne (which has been usurped by Eteocles), for Polynices and the duel between Eteocles and Polynices, the sons of Oedipus. The History of Thebes tapestries were formerly at Zamora and are now in the City Hall, Madrid. See Jozef Duverger and Erik Duverger, Tapisseries flamandes d’Espagne: Musée des Beaux-Arts, 19 juillet–20 septembre, 1959 (Ghent: Le Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1959), 23–25. I’ve seen them, and they are marvels—only the neighbourhood of Tarquin leur porte ombrage.“Overshadows them.” It seems the Chapter somehow succeeded in keeping them out of the tapestry Museum,Cathedral Museum, Zamora. when it was formed at Zamora 5–6 years ago, and say that they can deliver them outside of the country, and have a legal right to sell—for 2 1/2 million Fr. Fr. I’d much rather have them than the Cérans pair.See letters of January 26, 1930, and February 10, 1930.

Stora has promised to send you photos, of these too—not good photos, but they’ll serve to tell you what the things are like. As for the colour, you may take it from me that they’re incredibly lovely and fresh—the Spanish atmosphere is kinder to tapestries than the French, or any other I know.

This was rather a lot of emotion for me, all at once, and I felt positively giddy afterwards. The Hercules piece is Tournai—much finer than the one in the FigdorAlbert Figdor (1843–1927), a Viennese banker and collector. Coll.Probably The Seigneur Administering Justice tapestry, Tournai, late fifteenth century, no. 36 in the Figdor Collection sale. See Otto von Falke, Die Sammlung Dr. Albert Figdor: Erster Teil (Berlin: Paul Cassirer, 1930), vol. 1, no. 36, pls. 18–20. See also H. C. Mariller, “The Figdor Tapestries,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 56, no. 327 (June,1930): 314, pl. 1. which Robert will remember. The Zamora ones are Arras, I expect. I don’t know what you’d do if you saw the Tournai one. A couple of years ago it would have been a $200,000 tapestry. Now, I hope Stora will make a better price than that. I don’t know where it came from. Stora says it was in a Fr. chateau for centuries. It’s pretty dirty, and the colour will be livelier when it has been cleaned—but it’s in very good preservation. I’ve just had a stiff couple of months in Bpest, and a stiff week in Geneva, and now I’ve got some awkward matters to talk about here and in London. On the whole, I’m not dissatisfied, given general conditions—we in Hungary are worse off than many countries, and better than some, which is normal.

The atmosphere, generally, feels a bit better to me. The elections here last May did a lot of good internationally. Of course on the Financial side, this Govt., as Gauche Govts always do in France, is doing badly, and it doesn’t look to me as if the budget were going to be anything like balanced now. They’ll have to have another scare first, I’m afraid. There’s a lot of desire here to settle with Italy, and to arrange things all round—even if Treaties have got to be revised.On March 19, 1933, Benito Mussolini requested the creation of the Four-Power Pact as a better means of ensuring international security. Representatives of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy signed a diluted version of his proposal on July 15, 1933. But the pact was not ratified by France's parliament. I’m not very keen on revision, myself; I fear it would create as much trouble as it would settle, and I’d rather see progress on the economic plane—bigger units and lowering of barriers—but it’s striking to see the French are ready to do a lot to get an understanding, even at that price.

Bless you, dearest Mildred, love to you both

R. T.

P.S. Elisina is in Rome, and is returning with me to Pest when I go back there in 10 days. She’s well, and so is Billat Oxford.

Did our l’Art Byz. Vol. I ever reach you? It was sent off in August.

Associated People: Elisina Tyler; William Royall Tyler
Associated Things: L'art byzantin; M. & R. Stora, Paris