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Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, May 24, 1940

Geneva . 24.V.40

Dear Robert.

I must apologize for having omitted to tell you that I bought from Boustros [sic],Elias (Elie) Bustros, an antiquities dealer in Beirut, Lebanon. on photographs, (1) a marble roundel with chrism monogram in reliefBZ.1945.7. (2) a bronze weighing scales, apparently completePossibly BZ.1940.11.1–2. (3) a little bronze crossThis bronze cross has not been identified and does not appear to have entered the Byzantine Collection at Dumbarton Oaks. of a type I’ve not see before, & of interest as coming from Syria, most comparable objects having been found in Europe (chiefly Rome). These are humble objects, in a way, but each one has its meaning and is rare. You may feel like setting the marble roundel into the wall of your new building—it was originally set into a wall, no doubt. I paid about $120.- for the lot. I’ve now heard that La RancherayeDe La Rancheraye et Cie., a shipping company in Paris. has shipped it, insured, via Baltimore.

I have also told BustrosElias (Elie) Bustros, an antiquities dealer in Beirut, Lebanon. that I would take, it they reach LaRancheraye,De La Rancheraye et Cie., a shipping company in Paris. two small gold objectsThese two gold objects apparently were not sent. which I think you’d like to have. The price is small. I have no news of them as yet. I couldn’t resist the temptation of having a try for these things, which may turn out to be the last roses of summer, as it were.

I hear from BöhmOsvaldo Böhm, a photographer and publisher who specialized in images of the art and architecture of Venice. that he has sent off to you copies of the S. Marco Tesoro enamel photos. I have made part payment for them, and am trying to arrange for the rest, in the face of difficulties caused by new exchange restrictions. I may have to ask you to make (or to try to make) this last payment, including the cost of photographing the enamels in the Marciana Library,The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice. but I don’t ask you to do anything for the moment.

You’ll have seen, I hope, a letter I mailed to Mildred on the 19th inst.See letter of May 18, 1940. explaining why I thought I must stay here for the moment. Whether it will turn out to have done any sort of good or not is another question. One has to wait, and to live on one’s reserves of belief in the reserves of strength of those who are opposing this fearful onslaught. It’s bitter to think of the havoc, the misery—trivial perhaps to remember such things as Stoclet’s little patenPaten, sardonyx, silver gilt, copper, and cloisonné enamel on gold, Byzantine, late ninth–early tenth century, Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. OA 11878. Adolphe Stoclet had acquired this paten from the Pidal family in Madrid. See Klaus Wessel, Die byzantinische Emailkunst, Vom 5. bis 13. Jahrhundert (Recklinghausen: Bongers, 1967), 67–68, no. 15. with the enamel of the Last Supper—but that’s just what does keep recurring to my mind.

Elisina is at Antigny. So far, her region seems to be less overflowed by refugees than other parts further west: it is a precarious advantage, no doubt. Anyway, we aren’t very far apart, and I hope I shall be able to see her again soon. We were together in Paris those two bad days May 15 & 16.On May 10, 1940, Nazi Germany had invaded Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, and Winston Churchill had become prime minister of the United Kingdom. On May 16, Churchill visited Paris and learned that the French war against the Germans was all but lost. Much love to you and to Mildred.


R. T.

Associated Artworks: BZ.1940.11.1–2; BZ.1945.7