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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, May 28, 1931


Dearest Mildred,

Just a line to tell you that the Byz. Show has opened its gates to a dense multitude, and that I’m sending to you the first copy of the CatalogueCharles Diehl, Jean Ebersolt, and Royall Tyler, Exposition internationale d’art byzantin, 28 mai–9 juillet 1931 (Paris: Musée des arts décoratifs, 1931). This copy of the catalogue remains at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. that arrived from the printers. It’s full of mistakes, but it will serve to show you what we have got together. A further edition with Supplement and corrections will follow shortly.

The Show looks marvellous, and everyone seems to like it.In his exhibition review (“The Byzantine Exhibition in Paris,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 59, no. 340 [July 1931]: 27–29, 32–33), Robert Byron wrote: “The organizers of the exhibition of Byzantine art . . . deserve a lasting gratitude. Byzantine art has been called by those cognizant only of its most hackneyed manifestations a static art, confined within rigid and unchanging formulas. Not only have the organizers of the exhibition succeeded, with immense persistence, in transporting to Paris the treasured and little-known possessions of cathedrals and monasteries that have laid undisturbed for hundreds of years. But they have assembled a collection of objects which illustrate the innumerable modifications of taste and technique that in fact overtook East Christian art from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries. . . . And since this is the first exhibition of its kind, it is necessarily the first time that any of them have been placed in their evolutionary background.” See also Louis Bréhier, “L’Exposition d’art byzantin au pavillon de Marsan,” Formes 15 (May 1931): 79–81; René Dussaud, “Les Monuments syriens à l’Exposition d’art byzantin,” Syria 12, no. 4 (1931): 305–15; Comte J. de Borchgrave d’Altena, “Orfèvreries mosanes à l’Exposition d’art byzantin (Paris 28 mai—4 juillet 1931),” Revue belge d’archéologie et d’histoire l’art 1, no. 4 (1931): 309–14; and Guillaume de Jerphanion, “Le calice d’Antioche à l”Exposition d’art byzantin,” Byzantion 6 (1931): 613–21. I hope it will be a good draw—and I particularly hope that I won’t have to be away from Paris much while it is on: I’ve got to go to London for a few days next week, but after that I hope to be here.

There’s going to be a big Illustrated Ed. of the Catalogue,This was published by Georges Duthuit and Wolfgang Friedrich Volbach as Art byzantin: Cent planches reproduisant un grand nombre de pièces choisies parmi les plus représentatives des diverses tendances (Paris: A. Lévy, 1933), with an introduction by Georges Salles. but I have regretfully declined the honour of doing it, as the work would be enormous and I’d have again to defer for a year coming out with our Vol. I,L'art byzantin. which would begin to look ridiculous after so much announcement.

There are no news about the miniature Mosaic of the 40 Martyrs,Hayford Peirce acquired the icon from Géza Dános (1886–1990), a Jewish Hungarian collector, in Paris in 1931, and his widow, Polly, gave it to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in his memory of in October 1947. and I’m making no enquiries, as I’m certain the owner is up to all sorts of dodges, thinking he’s going to get a big price. He may after all, one day when he’s pressed for money, come back to uncle and take his medicine.

Seeing all those indifferent people at the Show made me feel sick at the thought of your absence. Thank you so much for the cable re Marañon.See cable of May 25, 1931. Probably Gregorio Marañón y Posadillo (1887–1960), a Spanish physician, scientist, historian, writer, and philosopher. The Spanish things haven’t come yet, but they are promised firm.The objects in the exhibition lent from Spain were the Missorium of Theodosius I, Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid, and the Skylitzes Mitritensis manuscript, Ms Graecus Vitr. 26-2, Biblioteca National de España, Madrid. See Exposition internationale d’art byzantin, 28 mai–9 juillet 1931 (Paris: Musée des arts décoratifs, 1931), 116 and 173, nos. 341 and 655.

Bless you, dearest Mildred

R. T.

Associated Artworks: BZ.1947.24