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Robert Woods Bliss to Royall Tyler, June 22, 1937

June 22, 1937

Royall Tyler, Esquire

Finance Ministry

Budapest, Hungary

Dear Royall:

This morning’s mail brought your letter of the 10thThis letter has not been located. and we can hardly wait to see the objects from the Mexican sale.Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indian and South American Antiquities, Native Art, Sotheby & Co., London, June 9, 1937. See PC.B.045, PC.B.056, PC.B.100, PC.B.101, PC.B.110, PC.B.160, PC.B.161, PC.B.162, and PC.B.249

We have read your letter with keen interest, especially your arguments on the authenticity of the Obsidian objects. They sound convincing.

I received a word from Stocklet, written on a post card illustrating the Bonessi pendant,Dr. Ugo Bonessi (dates unknown), an Italian collector in Rome. See letter of November 6, 1936. in which he said that it represented a Byzantine medallion which “j’ai acquis assez récemment.”“I acquired quite recently.” I do not feel very sad at having missed this piece as we already have our ownBZ.1933.5. which, to me, seems better.

In my last letter I think I failed to mention that we have found the bronze combIn a letter from Adolfo Loewi to Robert Woods Bliss, dated December 24, 1936, Loewi writes: “Plill by $950.= which was my benefit in the Carolingian comb . . . I will get in touch immediately with the people in Vienna who sold me this object which turned out to be dubious and will do my very best to recover as big a sum as possible from the former owner.” Byzantine Collection, Loewi correspondence file. to be a fake. This was the opinion of GoldschmidtAdolph Goldschmidt (1863–1944), a Jewish German art historian. and one or two other high lights. Loewi, through whom I bought it, admitted that he had been deceived.

There is being sent you very shortly a new batch of photographs in which I think you will find some interest. Among them is one of a green stone Astec or Toltec maskPC.B.054. which I got from Brummer this spring and which is as fine a specimen as I have ever seen.

I wonder whether you remember a mortierIn a listing of objects dated May 16, 1927, this is described as “mortier bronze achéménide ou Sasanide, 150,000 [francs].” In an invoice of June 1, 1927, it is described as “Mortier bronze décoré en relief de personnages royaux, de Kérubims alternant avec deux têtes de beliers. Sur le bord evasé, une frise décorée de cartouches incrustés d’or et d’argent et qui portent sur chaque face deux griffons, deux disques accostés de poissons et une inscription en cuneiforms vieux persans.” Byzantine Collection, Vignier correspondence file. which we bought from Vignier many years ago. You never liked it and I think there is no doubt that it is a dud. I tried, when last in Paris, to exchange it for some things remaining in the Vignier collection, but the charming niece and the widow said that the executor would not consent to any exchanges, only sales. Can you suggest any way in which we can get rid of it? It is now at No. 19 rue Monsieur.The reason for the mortar being at 19, rue Monsieur in Paris is unknown. It is possible that the Blisses had a friend or rented an apartment in this building. I am sorry to say that we paid a rather large price for it.

There is another thing that I have mentioned to you a number of times but have always forgotten to include it in my letters. I think you wrote me once upon a time that you had disposed of your chalice.BZ.1955.18. Do you suppose there would be any possibility of the purchaser consenting to sell it? I wish you had given us a chance at it for I think it should be in the same collection as the paten.BZ.1924.5.

StephenBZ.1937.19. is now in the postoffice in Washington and I hope that my answers to various questions asked by the Deputy Collector of Customs will satisfy him and that it will be delivered before I can sign this letter.

LuccaBZ.1937.18. is waiting for clearance in New York and should arrive here very shortly. In regard to the shipment of that object, there was a foreign charge of $260.82. This, no doubt, is mainly in insurance but even so it seems to me excessive. It might be well for our friend in Rome, when sending things in future, to take his insurance through LloydsLloyds of London, a British insurance company. who, I am informed, give lower rates on fine arts insurance. In the case of the Emperor,BZ.1937.23. it might be well for him to have the consular invoices and bills of lading made out in my name but have it consigned to Ellis Russell,Ellis Russell, Robert Woods Bliss’s secretary in New York. Secretary, 49 Wall Street, New York City, without sending it through a customs broker in New York. As I telegraphed you, we are delighted that this piece has been acquired and hope that it may lead to other objects of importance from the same source.

This morning I received a cablegram from Byk,Paul M. Byk (1887–1946), an employee of Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., New York. offering me a Byzantine ivory Virgin and ChildVirgin and Child (Hodegetria), ivory, formerly in the Stroganoff Collection, Rome. See Adolph Goldschmidt and Kurt Weitzmann, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.–XIII. Jahrhunderts, vol. 2, Reliefs (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1934), 64, pl. 51. formerly in the Stroganoff collection,Count Grigorij Sergeevich Stroganoff (1829–1910), a connoisseur and collector of paintings and objects of many cultures. Stroganoff had homes in Rome, Paris, and Saint Petersburg. which he stated was published and reproduced in Goldschmidt.Adolph Goldschmidt (1863–1944), a Jewish German art historian. It apparently comes from Germany. I have wired him asking for its number in Goldschmidt’s bookAdolph Goldschmidt and Kurt Weitzmann, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.–XIII. Jahrhunderts, vol. 2, Reliefs (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1934), 64, pl. 51. so that we can identify it, I shall probably send you a cable asking your opinion on finding out whether it is a piece we might be interested in.

We are distressed about Edith. We learned of it through Beatrice Farrand, who sailed on a day’s notice and is, by this time, at St. Brice. Our latest telegraphic news is that Edith is better but it does not look any too good to us.


Associated Places: Budapest (Hungary)