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Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, January 25, 1937

Finance Ministry



Dear Robert.

Thanks for your cable approving the Roman friendWolfgang Friedrich (“Fritz”) Volbach. See letter of January 7, 1937. idea. I hope to be able to run down there in a couple of weeks & have a talk with him.

I’ve asked Eric for photos of the spoons,BZ.1937.35–42. & will tell you what I can in answer to your question, when I see the photo., for my recollection of the objects, from 1931, is too vague.

Stora writes me that he has got an option on the MemlingThe Flight into Egypt, formerly attributed to Hans Memling. Since this painting was purchased by William Burrell from Arnold Seligmann & Cie on December 29, 1936, it is unclear why Stora had an option on it. The painting remains in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow. of which you’ve got a photo., & about which I wrote to you. It’s attractive—but I hope you will resist.

You’ll perhaps have heard from Bill that our hopes of his getting a job with the Guar. Tr.Guarantee Trust. in London have been disappointed. The head of the show in London put up a plan to Head Office which would have included Bill—but Head Off. turned it down. Bill hears from N.Y. that H.O. is kind of sour on the branches, because Paris branch lost 100,000 bucks last year, & the net profit of all the branch offices together were under 100,000. Well, it’s bad luck, and we’ll have to look about for something else. Bill seems to take it very wisely & without losing his sense of proportion—which reminds me that once, when he was about 3, & someone asked him what he was, he pointed at a bit of dust floating in the air, & said that was what he was. A great thing to have, a sense of relativity.

I’ve sent off the revised proofs of our Vol. III,L’art byzantin. & its now up to the LDFLibrairie de France. to publish.

In the meantime, the Record OfficeThe Public Record Office of the British Home Office, London. has come to life again, like Rip van Winkle, after 20 years, & started sending me the proofs of the vol. of the Spanish Calendar for 1554. It gives me such a queer feeling to start correcting these proofs—but I wouldn’t for anything turn them over to anyone else.

Whittemore writes that he is leaving for USA & . . . well, I’ll just send you a copy of his letter. As I told you, his work is very well done, and is of the very greatest value. I haven’t told him that I’m sending on his letter to you.While in Boston, Thomas Whittemore met with Paul Sachs about funds for his work at Hagia Sophia. They also discussed Whittemore’s Byzantine coin collection, as a note in the Sachs correspondence of February 23, 1937, states: “On Feb. 22 I discussed with Mr. and Mrs. Bliss the question of the possible acquisition of Whittemore’s Byzantine collection.” Sachs thought that this might furnish Whittemore the funds he needed and noted that the matter would be discussed further by Edward W. Forbes, Robert Woods Bliss and himself. Dumbarton Oaks Archives, Dumbarton Oaks History, Paul J. Sachs correspondence file, 1937–1940.

I think I told you that there are, on the market, two enamelsSee letter of December 21, 1936 “Justinian”Justinian I (ca. 482–565), the Byzantine emperor from 527 to 565. & “Theodora”Theodora I (ca. 500–548), a Byzantine empress and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. from the Trivulzio Col.Luigi 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. (!!!), but real stinkerinos. After much reflection, I decided, though I don’t like doing such things & am always mindful of Koechlin’s remark “les marchands en savent toujours assez”,“Dealers always know enough.” to give Spinks,Spink & Son, London, an auction house that principally deals with coins and paper money. who have them in hand, a friendly hint. I’m sure they are quite in good faith, & the name of the stable is a good one—but accidents will happen, & who knows when they entered the Tr. Coll.

Little RoyallRoyall Tyler (b. 1936), the first child of Bettine Tyler and William Royall Tyler, was born in London. After earning a BA in Far Eastern Languages from Harvard University and a PhD in Japanese literature from Columbia University, he became a scholar and translator of Japanese literature. He presently lives in Australia in New South Wales. is reported to weigh 9 lbs. & to be flourishing, as is also Betsy, who is nursing him.

Much love to you both—

R. T.



The Byzantine Institute

4 Rue de Lille, Paris

January 21st, 1937.

My dear Tyler,

The year ended before I was able completely to uncover the Angel,Archangel Gabriel, mosaic on the south side of the bema of the apse, ninth century, Hagia Sophia. but I went far enough in the uncovering to see that this figure has survived from the IXth century. There is no question about it. It is probably from the hand of LazarusAccording to Antony, Archbishop of Novgorod, who visited Constantinople in 1200, the painter Lazarus “for the first time represented in Constantinople, in the sanctuary of St. Sophia, the Holy Mother of God holding Christ, and two angels.” See Cyril Mango and Ernest J. W. Hawkins, “The Apse Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul: Report on Work Carried Out in 1964,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 19 (1965): 113–51. himself. How I want you of all men in the world to see it!

May I have a photograph of your ivoryBZ.1972.21. published by Goldschmidt,Adolph Goldschmidt and Kurt Weitzmann, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.–XIII. Jahrhunderts, vol. 2, Reliefs (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1934). Volume II, plate no 26, fig. 67. Will you be good enough to send this to 712 Sears Building, Boston. I am not going to publish it, I want only to study it.

On the 27th of January I sail on the Bremen and shall be in Boston in two months.

I am in a state of great trepidation, lest I shall not be able to carry out my plans for next year. The lowest price I can reach in the contracts for my metal scaffold for the high Eastern arch is $15,000.—Who in America will help me to do this? This will give me sufficient movable scaffolding material to reach the North and South walls and their mosaics.

Ever yours,

T. Whittemore.

Associated Places: Budapest (Hungary); Paris (France)
Associated Artworks: BZ.1937.35-42; BZ.1972.21