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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, April 20, 1931

Grand Hôtel Imperial
Sofia 20.IV.31Monday.

We’re nearing the end of a seven-country trip, my dearest Mildred, and when we’ve polished off Belgrade, which we intend to do in 24 hrs., we shall make like homing birds for Paris, where I plan to spend 2 days with Bill before he goes up to Balliol.Balliol College was founded in 1263 as one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. He has just returned from Spain! About that I’ll talk another time. ‘We’ on this occasion are John Hugh SmithArnold John Hugh Smith (1881–1964), an American expatriate banker, art collector, Francophile, and friend of Henry James and Edith Wharton. He was the director of Hambros Bank in London. His collecting interests were similar to those of Royall Tyler. and myself.

At Budapest, I made sure of the Monomachos crownCrown of Constantine Monomachos, ca. 1042–1050, gold and cloisonné enamel, Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum, Budapest. for our Show,The Crown of Monomachos was in the exhibition. See letter of August 12, 1931. and I also went to see the old Countess Andrassy (Gyula),The widow of Count Gyula Andrássy de Csíkszentkirály et Krasznahorka the Younger (1860–1929), a Hungarian politician who had inherited his family’s art collection. See A tiszadobi és tőketerebesi gróf Andrássy kastélyok műtárgyai (Kunstwerke aus den Schlössern Tiszadob und Tőketerebes des Grafen Andrássy) (Berlin, 1930). in whose hands the collection is, and had a careful look at it. It is very disappointing indeed. I hadn’t expected much—but the reality! There is an authentic, signed and dated 1639 Rembrandt, a not very attractive portrait.A Rembrandt self portrait (1630, oil on wood), now considered a copy. The painting was sold to a Swiss collector and dealer and was in the collection of John Hugo Loudon (1905–1996) of Aerdenhout, Netherlands. See Péter Molnos, “Egy Politikus Mügyujto: Gróf Andrássy Gyula.” There are two bits of Florentine fresco, XVe, cut out of a wall, quite good, one of them a B. Gozzoli perhaps.Benozzo Gozzoli(ca. 1421–1497), an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. The fresco has not been identified. And that’s all, except a lot of carpets, some of which have been good, but the family have used them very hard, fed dogs on them etc., and there’s not much left. I thought it might be welcome to you to have a negative report on the Andrassy stuff, as you can count that out, without a twinge. The poor Andrassy’s have fearful delusions about it—but even they realise that it would be rash to try to sell the things now.

They’ve discovered a lot of sensational early Greek things in S. Bulgaria. And the Serbs have found a lot in the Ochrida region. We hope to see the latter tomorrow.

Much love

R. T.

Associated People: Edith Wharton; William Royall Tyler
Associated Things: Byzantine Exhibition of 1931