You are here:Home/Resources/ Bliss-Tyler Correspondence/ Search the Letters/ Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, March 17, 1931
Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, March 17, 1931

29, rue d’Astorg
F. Anjou 16–88

Dearest Mildred,

Here are two photos. of the Chrissoveloni cloister.The cloister of the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines had been decommissioned after the French Revolution and eventually was sold to the Parisian antiquities dealer Paul Gouvert. He had replications of architectural elements fabricated and sold parts of the cloister between 1924 and 1928 to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and to Chrissoveloni, who installed them at the Castle Mésnuls. See also letters of January 6, 1931 [2]; February 3, 1931; and February 14, 1931. The walls are all authentic, and the whole thing is of an exquisite blond peach coloured Pyrenean marble. As you see, the capitals are pretty rude, but they are full of character.

I’ve sent you a photograph of the Crucifixion ivoryAdolph Goldschmidt and Kurt Weitzmann, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.–XIII. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1934), 2:80–81, fig. 228. in the Suermondt Mus. at Aachen, which is a poor relation of yours. I’m not asking for it for the Byz. Show, because I don’t think it’s important enough.

H.H. the PopePius XI (1857–1939) was pope between 1922 and 1939. has turned us down—perhaps thanks to the bungling of de Fontenay, Fr. Amb. to the Vatican,The Viscount Joseph Louis de Fontenay (1864–1946), a French diplomat and ambassador to the Vatican between 1928 and 1932. who did exactly the opposite of what we instructed him to do. However, SalvagoGiuseppe Salvago Raggi (1866–1946), an Italian diplomat. He had been Italian ambassador in Paris in 1916–1917. is taking the matter in hand, and may retrieve it.The Vatican did not lend to the Byzantine exhibition of 1931. Any way, we are assured already of enough stuff to make the Show an immensely important one—much more important, I think, than the Pers. Show,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), though, as we lack the advertising genius of Urge U. Pope, the world probably won’t get it. Indeed, to use Hayford’s division of our compatriots into ‘Urges’ and ‘Elmers’ we have got into the hands of a bunch of Elmers (MoreyCharles Rufus Morey (1877–1955), an American art historian, scholar of Early Christian art, and longtime professor at Princeton University. and W.The referenece to W. is unclear, but it could be Ernest DeWald (1891–1968), a Princeton University professor and a scholar of medieval manuscript illumination. It is not the now better known Kurt Weitzman (1904–1993), the German-born Byzantinist and medievalist who joined the faculty of Princeton University only in 1935. of Princeton) thanks to de Lorey. With all Urge’s drawbacks, I fear he’s better than Elmer.

Elmer of Princeton’sI.e., Charles Rufus Morey (1877–1955). latest performance is to pronounce that the celebrated Andrews DiptychThe Andrews Diptych, ninth century, ivory, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. A.47&A-1926. Although the diptych has been dated to the fifth century, scholarly opinion increasingly sees it as a Carolingian copy of a late antique original. As far as we know, however, no one regards it as a forgery. at the V. and A. (Ve cent), the Miracles of Our Lord, including a very repulsive representation of a leper, is a forgery. For why? Because there’s a little quatre-foil in the gable of a building represented on it, and the Princeton collection of ‘Photostats’ (lovely word)The pejorative reference is to the Index of Christian Art, founded by Charles Rufus Morey, at Princeton University in 1917. It classified medieval art iconographically and relied on Photostat images. contains no quatrefoil earlier than the XIIIe cent.

Or, quatrefoils exist on:

1) The Liverpool elk-fight diptych (Ve cent), which Princeton doesn’t contestWolfgang Fritz Volbach, Elfenbeinarbeiten der Spätantike und des frühen Mittelalters (Mainz: Verlag des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, 1952), pl. 32, no. 59.
2) The Ve cent. sword-band of Childeric (Cab. des Médailles)See Jean Hubert, Jean Porcher, and Wolfgang Fritz Volbach, Europe of the Invasions (New York: G. Braziller, 1969), 218–19.
3) etc a large number of the earliest silks found in Egypt, Ve or VIe.

This is the sort of absurdity that Elmer falls into thanks to his system of classing everything iconographically, and considering nothing as worth notice which is not susceptible of an iconographical classification—to say nothing of blindness to quality.

The enclosed from Bill may amuse you. Don’t bother to return them.

The more I think about your Achaemenian relief, the more pleased I am about it.

Much love, dearest Mildred

R. T.

Associated Places: Paris (France)
Associated Things: Byzantine Exhibition of 1931
Associated Artworks: BZ.1931.1