Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, May 15, 1937

Finance Ministry

Budapest

15th May 1937.

Dear Robert,

The same little Jew who produced StephenBZ.1937.19. has now brought to Fettich the enclosed photograph,The whereabouts of this photograph are unknown. The gold and enamel reliquary that it depicted is possibly a reliquary cross pendant, Byzantine, early eleventh century, now in the British Museum, London, acc. no. 1965,0604.1. The reliquary has a standing Virgin flanked by busts of Saint Basil and Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus, the saints mentioned later in Tyler’s letter. The pendant was formerly in the collection of Adolphe Stoclet. See http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=61405&partId=1 (accessed October 5, 2015). which looks to me very good indeed. As you will see, it is accompanied by a certificate from Otto von Falke:Otto von Falke (1862–1942), a German art historian of the decorative arts. He was appointed director of the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Cologne, in 1895 and director the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, in 1908. In 1920, he succeeded Wilhelm von Bode as general director of Berlin museums, a position which he held until his retirement in 1927. In retirement, von Falke founded and acted as publisher of the journal Pantheon. “Diese zur Aufnahme einer Kreuzreliquie bestimmte Goldemailplatte scheint mir einwandfrei; ich habe bei genauer Betrachtung nichts bedenkliches daran finden können. 12–13 Jahr.”“This gold enamel plate, intended to accommodate a cross relic, seems fine to me; on close inspection, I cannot find anything questionable. 12th–13th century.”

The objectPossibly a gold and enamel reliquary cross pendant, Byzantine, early eleventh century, now in the British Museum, London, acc. no. 1965,0604.1. The pendant was formerly in the collection of Adolphe Stoclet. See http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=61405&partId=1 (accessed October 5, 2015). is said to be in a private collection in Switzerland, and to have been bought in Paris 30 years ago. I will try to arrange to see it as soon as possible, either on my way to London at the end of this month, or on my way back from London towards the middle of June. The price asked for it is 15.000 Pengö, to which the buyer / and also the seller / is asked to add 5%. The purchase price would have to be paid in Vienna or Switzerland, and one might be able to get some reduction, but I expect one would have to reckon on paying the equivalent of something like $2800 plus 5%. This price does not seem to me at all high, considering the quality of the object as apparent from the photograph. The setting of the cloisons and the drawing are very good indeed. I of course do not want to give a definitive opinion before seeing the object itself, but I must say my impression from the photograph is extremely favourable. If a big dealer got hold of this object, it would be more like $10.000 than $3.000. As the Saints represented are St. Gregory the Theologian and St. Basil, I will refer to the object as”Gregory”, and as soon as I have seen it I will cable you my opinion.

I have just heard from Volbach that the BonessiDr. Ugo Bonessi (dates unknown), an Italian collector in Rome. enamel,See letter of November 6, 1936. which so much resembles the oneBZ.1933.5. you got from San Giorgi [sic], is now in Volbach’s hands, he says: “Ich werde es noch einmal genau untersuchen. Es ist sehr interessant, nur eigenartig starke Stege. Bei näherer untersuchung ist man wieder mehr für Echtheit. Ich werde versuchen, für Sie eine Foto zu bekommen, aber behandeln Sie bitte bis dahin die Sache als vertraulich.”“I will examine it again thoroughly. It is very interesting, just curious wide ridges. On closer examination, one is again more for [its being] authentic. I'll try to get a photo for you, but until then, please treat the matter as confidential.” I have never had much doubt that the object is authentic. Now that it has been blown upon by several museums, there might be an opportunity of getting it very cheap via Volbach.

Yrs.

R. T.

 
Associated Places: Budapest (Hungary)
Associated Artworks: BZ.1933.5; BZ.1937.19