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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, March 30, 1931

29, rue d’Astorg
Paris
F Anjou 16–88
30.III.31Monday.

Dearest Mildred

I just had your letter of the 4th inst., (cheque £250 enclosed) with the very interesting and vivid account of Russia. It gave me a good deal I wanted to know. Have you read Hindus’ ‘Humanity Uprooted’Maurice Gerschon Hindus, Humanity Uprooted (New York: J. Cape and H. Smith, 1929).—recommended by your letter-writer? It is worth looking at, and squares with this account of the Quaker’s.See letter of March 4, 1931: “The enclosed copy of a letter will interest you because of its objective impartiality. The author is the young sister of Robert’s private sec., fine Pa. Quaker stock curiously free fr. prejudice & material sensitiveness. Immature as is her manner of expression, she gives one a vivid impression of wrong-headed, fanatical stirring. Tell me what you think of it?”

I’m delighted to tell you that Eric, whom I went over to London to see between two trains, came across most nobly and we’re entirely friends again. It had been tragic at one moment—but his point of view really was unreasonable, and he ended by seeing it, when the sting of annoyance at having been beaten had passed off. What really got under his skin, I think, was that when we discussed the possibility, months ago, that the F.O.“Foreign Office.” might be approached, Eric warned me that it would do no good, as the Board of Education would in any case be guided by his advice! And then—. Well, it’s all right now, and we’re getting what we want from the V. and A.See letter of March 27, 1931.

The Metrop. of N.Y., after having said they would lend now refuses. Tant pis“Too bad.”—Mr. MorganJohn Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), an American financier, banker, and art collector. is lending. The Antioch ChaliceAntioch Chalice,” ca. 500–600, silver and silver-gilt, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 50.4. When the chalice was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century, it was argued to have been found in Antioch, and its plain silver interior bowl was identified as the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper. It was owned by the dealer Kouchakji Frères, New York, and later by Fahim Kouchakji, New York, until 1950, when it was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. is coming! and KouchakdjiThe Syrian-born Kouchakji brothers—Salim, Constantine, Joseph Georges, and Habib Kouchakji—ran the Paris and New York antiquities dealership of Kouchakji Frères. Habib Kouchakji (1858–1940) and Fahim Kouchakji (1886–1976), Joseph Georges Kouchakji’s son, represented the New York office. has a paragraph in the Herald today saying that throughout the middle ages pilgrims flocked to Syria to venerate it as the chalice used by Our Lord at the Last Supper! That’s the stuff!

Now, to business. I hear from Hayford from N. Y. that the BurnsWalter Spencer Morgan Burns (1891–1929), British art collector and financier, was a nephew of J. Pierpont Morgan and a partner in his firm, J. P. Morgan & Co., as of December 31, 1897. enamel is there, at Drey’sThe firm of A. S. Drey was founded in Munich in the 1860s by Aaron S. Drey. The firm later expanded to London and New York City. In New York, Aaron Drey’s grandson, Paul Drey (1885–1953), was a senior partner of the Paul Drey Gallery, founded in 1920. ($15,000.) Hayford is sorely tempted. I’m advising him not to, as I consider it beyond his means, and am asking him, if he decides not to, to write to you about it, sending a photo. I’ve never seen it, but it must be good.

Also, Duthuit of the Louvre brought back from Athens a photo, of a 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 memory of Hayford Peirce in October 1947. which I sent to Hayford. Since then, I have been approached by one DanosGéza Dános (1886–1990), a Jewish Hungarian collector. here, who says he’s going to have the mosaic to sell, in a few weeks time. He won’t mention a price, but miniature mosaics are frightfully rare, much more so even than enamels, and the only one I’ve ever known on the market appears to have brought $15,000, and it wasn’t as good as this, which looks very fine. I don’t think Hayford ought to try for it either. If he doesn’t want to, he’ll also write to you about it and send you the photo.

So please tell me if you want to have a try at it, and how much. It looks superb to me, and it’s of signal rarity. As for the Burns cross, you’d have to act through someone in the U.S., Hayford if you like.

Further, I’m sending you enclosed a photo of a Vermeer van Delft,Johannes (Jan or Johan) Vermeer (baptized in Delft 1632–died 1675), a Dutch genre painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle class life. The painting has not been identified. which is in private hands in Holland. It comes via my friend Boutreux.See letter of January 26, 1930. As you see, it is vetted by Gluck,Gustav Glück (1871–1952), an Austrian art historian and the author of several books on Dutch art. Glück became an assistant at the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum in 1900, a curator in 1911, and the director between 1916 and 1931. Hofstede de Groote [sic]Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863–1930), a Dutch collector and an independent art historian who specialized in Dutch seventeenth-century painting. He served briefly (1896–1897) as the director of the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam. & Martin.Wilhelm Martin (1876–1954), a German art historian who specialized in Dutch seventeenth-century painting. He was professor of art history at Leiden University (1907–1946) and director of the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague (1909–1945). They ask Fr. Frs. 6 million for it (but that’s their price). Let me know if you want me to see it. It is obviously after the same model as the famous one in Amsterdam, and also Mr. Mellon’s,Andrew William Mellon (1855–1937), an American banker, industrialist, philanthropist, art collector, and secretary of the Treasury between 1921 and 1932. but looks better than the latter.It is not certain which Vermeer painting Tyler refers to, although it may be Study of a Young Woman, oil on canvas, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 1979.396.1, which in 1931 was in the collection of the Arenberg family in Brussels. Tyler is also probably referring to the Johannes Vermeer painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, oil on canvas, Mauritshuis, The Hague, inv. no. 670, and a forgery in the style of Johannes Vermeer, The Smiling Girl, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. acc. no. 1937.1.55.

I’m leaving tomorrow for Lyons—Berlin—Warsaw, Bucharest, Sofia, Athens, Budapest, Vienna, Paris. A nice little trip, but I shall miss Bill before he goes up to Oxford, which annoys me very much. I want to see how much Spanish he has learned.

With fondest love

Yrs
R. T.

I’m now having a wild shot at the British Museum (for loans to the Byz. Ex.). It won’t come off, probably, but I believe Ramsay MacDonaldJames Ramsay MacDonald (1866–1937), a British Labour politician who was prime minister between 1929 and 1931. is keen on International Shows—so why not try? God, how unpopular I shall be in the United Kingdom!

I’m so glad you like the Tiger’s head.

 
Associated Things: Byzantine Exhibition of 1931
Associated Artworks: BZ.1931.3; BZ.1936.20; BZ.1947.24