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Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, May 17, 1935

Hôtel de Crillon

Place de la Concorde



Dear Robert.

I’ve just had your cable,See telegram of May 16, 1935. and have telephoned to Stora to send you a photo. of the diptychBZ.1935.4.a–b. and particulars, & give you an option for as long as possible at Frs 125,000.

I take it you have not got by you the photo. of the diptych which Stora sent you some time ago (when he was asking 300,000 f.) The diptych is from the TrivulzioLuigi Alberico Trivulzio (1868–1938), Prince of Musocco and Marchese of Sesto Ulteriano. Trivulzio was responsible for the sale of much of his family’s art collection. Coll., published as belonging to it by MolinierÉmile Molinier, Catalogue des ivoires (Paris: Librairies-imprimeries reunites, 1896), 30, fig. 30. and by Delbrück (Konsular diptychen),Richard Delbrueck, Die Consulardiptychen und verwandte Denkmäler (Leipzig: Walter De Gruyter, 1929), 146–47, pl. 30. to which you might refer. PhiloxenusFlavius Theodorus Philoxenus, consul in 525. was consul in the earlier part of Justinian’sJustinian I (ca. 482–565), Byzantine emperor between 527 and 565. reign—about 535, if I remember right. The diptych is of the very finest style, & of most lovely colour & patina. And now that the Trivulzio coll. has been bought by Milan & Turin,Much of the Trivulzio Collection (including ivories) was acquired by the museum complex, Civiche Raccolte d’Arte Applicata, Castello Sforzesco, Milan, in 1935. But before that acquisition, Pietro Accorsi (1891–1982), on behalf of the Palazzo Madama Museum in Turin and with the backing of the Prince of Piedmont, Umberto II of Savoy (1904-1983), the last king of Italy, bought much of the Trivulzio Collection. The news of the transfer of the collection caught the interest of Benito Mussolini (1883–1945), leader of the National Fascist Party, who forbade Accorsi to move the collection from Milan. Accorsi agreed but asked for compensation for the city of Turin for the breach of contract. Turin was given Antonello da Messina’s painting, Portrait of a Man, from the Trivulzio Collection as well as the second book of the Trés belles heures de Notre Dame de Jean de Berry with miniatures by Jan van Eyck, which remain in the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica in the Palzzo Madama, Turin. there are no more consular diptychs in private hands, except for one otherProbably Diptych Leaf of Consul Areobindus, 506, ivory, Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. OA 9525. This ivory was in the Trivulzio Collection until 1929 and the Montesquiou-Fezensac Collection until 1934. It was a gift to the Musée du Louvre in 1951. from Trivulzio, which Stora sold to an undisclosed collector here, and one leaf of oneConsular Diptych Leaf of Unidentified Consul, fifth–sixth century, ivory. See Richard Delbrueck, Die Consulardiptychen und verwandte Denkmäler (Leipzig: Walter De Gruyter, 1929), 172–74, no. 41. By 1909, the ivory was in the collection of Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, comtesse de Béarn (1869–1939); it passed by descent to Hubert de Ganay, Marquis de Ganay, and to Jean-Louis, Marquis de Ganay. It was auctioned by Sotheby’s, Monaco, on December 5, 1987, lot 156, and again by Sotheby’s, London, on June 22, 2004, lot 48, where it reportedly was acquired by the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid. belonging to Mme de Béhague.Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, comtesse de Béarn (1869–1939), a French art patron and collector. You’ll see the entire corpus of them in Delbrück. To me the thing is a most desirable object, especially as the patina is so lovely—not always the case.

Mallon’s silkThis textile was identified as a Byzantine silk of the ninth century in a May 1, 1935, letter from Marguerite Mallon to Mildred Barnes Bliss. The price quoted was 125,000 francs. Byzantine Collection, Mallon correspondence file. See also letter of May 17, 1935. is very attractive indeed, but it seems to me an inconsiderable thing as compared with the diptych. Mallon has a lot of other SeldjoukThe Seljuq period, a Turkish Sunni Muslim dynasty of the eleventh–twelfth century that adopted Persian culture and contributed to the Turko-Persian tradition. fragments,These fragments have not been identified. one with affronted camels which is very fine, and he has two fragments of embroidery, with gold threads, which appear to be Mesopotamian of about the IXe cent., of very great interest but to my eye not supremely beautiful. He has still not succeeded in getting that rider silkThis textile has not been identified. of which he showed us a photo.

I’m going tomorrow down to Hyères to spend a couple of days with Edith, who has been pretty ill—spasme artériel“Arterial spasm.” which might have, but didn’t, develop into a slight stroke. Elisina is with her. Don’t mention Edith’s illness please. I saw the Gays here—he is very low and can’t walk without assistance, but his mind is clear, and his eye too. Much love to both.


R. T.

Associated Places: Hyères (France); Paris (France)
Associated Things: M. & R. Stora, Paris
Associated Artworks: BZ.1935.4.a-b