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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, October 31, 1930


Those pre-Scythian bronzes,On August 27, 1929, Royall Tyler purchased fifty Scythian, Sino-Siberian, and Avar objects for the Blisses from Kalebdjian, thirty-three of which were retained in the Byzantine Collection in the Dumbarton Oaks Museum, BZ.1929.9–58. See also letter of May 16, 1930. In a letter of September 28, 1929, Tyler references sixty Scythian objects which were not acquired. See also letters of October 12, 1929; December 14, 1929; December 15, 1929 [1]; December 15, 1929 [2]; and December 17, 1929. dearest Mildred, of which all the dealers had a few last spring and for which they were asking 10,000–15,000 fr. each, I have now discovered arrived in Paris by 2 or 3 channels, of which the chief is our friend Ernest Brummer.

The first arrivals cost him some 5,000 fr. each, and as lots were coming, he didn’t dare keep any, and passed them on with a profit to Vignier etc. As more and more came, the demands of the people on the spot decreased. The supply continued for a time, but is now running low. But as the dealers all have them, and the market is bad, the prices have tumbled, and may tumble further. They have reached a point where E. Brummer is starting to keep those he receives, and where I strongly advise you to let me start buying some for you.The Blisses did not acquire Scythian objects from Ernest Brummer in this time period. They are magnificent in style, as you know, and archaeologically of huge interest. I think I shall be able, if they go on coming, to buy A.1. examples at 2000–3000 fr. each, and perhaps even less. Of course the big dealers, who bought at the prices obtaining when the first came, won’t sell theirs at a loss, but I think I can get out of Brummer any he receives and I fancy very cheap. I’m pretty sure it’s a moment to profit by, for unless there’s a huge supply coming, those things are so fine that their prices are bound to go up again later. Until I hear from you on this, I’ll put aside any outstanding ones Brummer gets, or which I can find elsewhere at attractive prices.

Brummer says it’s all moonshine about their coming from Nehavend.Nahavand, the capital city of Nahavand County, Hamadan Province, Iran. No one knows where they are found. The Kurds bring them to a village just outside Kermanshah, and tell a different story as to Fundort“Find location.” to each enquirer. And as you know, it isn’t safe to venture into the Kurd country.

Bless you.

R. T.

P.S. I hear from various sources, including the Salvago RaggisGiuseppe Salvago Raggi (1866–1946), an Italian diplomat. He had been Italian ambassador in Paris in 1916–1917. who are new here, that GualinoRiccardo Gualino (1879–1964), once known as the richest man in Italy, was the owner of Snia Viscosa, the leading Italian artificial silk manufacturer. When he was unable to repay a loan from the Banca Agricola Italiana in 1931, he was jailed by the Fascists. is bust. You remember: a meteoric artificial silk magnate who sprang to fame and great wealth in the post-war years and who has now joined the numerous company of Mussolini’sBenito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883–1945), an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party. economic policy’s victims. He formed, in the days of his fortune, a remarkable collection, primitives, Chinese (from Loo), and a little medieval, including one of the finest Byz. Xe ivoriesDiptych leaf with Christ and a bust of Saint Peter. The ivory was published in the Stroganoff Collection by Ludwig Pollak and Antonio Muñoz; see Ludwig Pollak and Antonio Muñoz, Pièces de choix de la collection du Comte Grégoire Stroganoff à Rome, vol. 2, Moyen Âge—Renaissance—Époque modern (Rome: Impr. de l’Unione editrice, 1912), pl. CXVIII, 2. It was published in Lionello Venturi, ed., La collezione Gualino (Turin: Bestetti and Tumminelli, 1926), pl. LVIII. Royall Tyler exhibited this ivory in the Byzantine exhibition of 1931. See Exposition internationale d’art byzantin, 28 mai–9 juillet 1931 (Paris: Musée des arts décoratifs, 1931), 76, no. 98. See also letters of March 27, 1929. of the StroganoffCount 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. coll.

I imagine the Ital. Govt. will squeeze Gualino into turning over the whole collection to them,The Gualino Collection had been conceived along the lines of the great American collections of the early twentieth century and included art works from antiquity to the Baroque period. Beginning in 1918, Gualino was advised in his collecting by the art historian Lionello Venturi (1885–1961). In 1928, Riccardo Gualino had given one hundred art works to the Galleria Sabauda, Turin, to form the Gualino Collection. See Lionello Venturi, ed., La collezione Gualino (Turin: Bestetti and Tumminelli, 1926). In 1931, what remained of Gualino’s art collection was given over to the Bank of Italy, with which he had contracted a substantial loan. The bank sold a number of art works but also retained a large selection, which formed the basis for the Gualino Collection housed in the Palazzo Koch, the bank’s head office in Rome. but if by any chance it were to come on the market, that Strog. ivory would be a thing to go for instantly.

I hear from Bill that he has just bought his first picture at a public sale—in Vienna. An XVIIe cent. Dutch picture,This painting has not been identified. and he got it for about £4.0.0. He’s greatly excited about it. He is having a superb time with the music in Vienna. We’re thinking of sending him to Madrid after the New Year.

Have you seen Willumsen’s 2 vols. on ‘La Jeunesse du Greco?’Jens Ferdinand Willumsen, La jeunesse du peintre El Greco: Essai sue l’artiste byzantine en peintre européen (Paris: Crès, 1927). It’s well worth getting.In Royall Tyler’s letter of March 14, 1931, he writes: “Don’t waste any time on Willemsens [sic] ‘Jeunesse du Greco’. It is full of nonsense, but worth while skimming through.”

Business is perfectly horrible. Things seem rather better in Germany—but the prospect is black enough all round.

P.S. I was much amused to see that the new Arg. Govt.“Argentina government.” was not ratifying—or not intending to execute—the commercial convention which Ld. Dab.Edgar Vincent, 1st Viscount D’Abernon (1857–1941), a British politician, diplomat, art collector, and author. In 1930, he authored an agreement between Argentina and the British Labour government where Argentina would favor certain British goods by means of “bulk purchases” and the British government would not exclude Argentine meats and grains from any customs preference thereafter to be granted by Britain. This agreement was not ratified by the Argentine senate in 1931. tore off last year.

Associated Artworks: BZ.1929.9-58