Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, January 17, 1939

17.I.39

Dear Robert.

I cabled you yesterdayCable of January 16, 1939. “your letter Dec. 24 stop confirm Milan letterProbably letter of January 3, 1939. and cableTelegraph of January 2, 1939. about sculpturesBZ.1937.23 and BZ.1938.62. stop suggest letting LandauNicolas Landau (1887–1979), an antiquities dealer known as “Le prince des antiquaires.” Born in Varsovia, he studied law in Paris before becoming an antiquities dealer in New York and then in Paris, where he had a business on the rue de Duras. simmer a while before offering perhaps 7 or 8For BZ.1939.8. stop letter follows with important light on Kelek glass”This molded blue glass ewer has not been identified.

I saw Volbach in Rome. He knew all about the matter, just having come from Germany & having seen F. He says he believes KühnelRoyall Tyler is incorrect. The name is Kümmel, not Kühnel. Otto Kümmel (1874–1952) was a German art historian and director of the Berlin State Museums between 1934 and 1945. Ernst Kühnel (1882–1964) was a curator of the Islamic collection of the State Museum (Kaiser Friedrich Museum) in Berlin. (not KummelOtto Kümmel (1874–1952), a German art historian and director of the Berlin State Museums between 1934 and 1945.) heard about you having the sculpturesBZ.1937.23 and BZ.1938.62. from one Mitteldorfer,Ulrich Middeldorf (1901–1983), historian and art historian of Italian Renaissance culture, who took his PhD in Munich with Heinrich Wölfflin and began his teaching career in 1935 at the University of Chicago, where he remained until 1953, when he became the director of the German Kunsthistoriches Institut in Florence. a German now or recently at Chicago. Further, that he has found out the story of publication was made up as a pretext. Kühnel wants to curry favour with the powers that be, & thinks he can put it over on strength of having met you. V. says to his personal knowledge sculptures belong to Prince L who sold them to F, & had belonged to him since his father’sPrince Friedrich Leopold (1865–1931). death many years ago. He thinks only possible ground against L would be fact that he was at one time, just after the war, put under Kuratel (guardianship) for extravagance,See “Prussia Complains of Lavish Prince; Wants Swiss to Restrain Friedrich Leopold, Said to Owe Some 1,000,000 Francs,” New York Times, March 21, 1921. but V. says he was subsequently released. Anyway, any case can only lie against poor L (already in jug) and F., and not against you. As I said, I don’t think Kühnel (who by the way is not Director General of the Germ. Museums, but only Director of the Asiatic Museum) deserves any answer to his imprudent letter. If you do want to answer, I think it should be merely that you bought from a dealer in Switzerland.

V. says L. is in bad for having turned Catholic as well as for his articles.See letter of January 3, 1939. Among other things he is being accused of sodomy.During the Second World War, the Nazis interred Prince Friedrich Leopold and his private secretary and life-companion, the Baron Friedrich “Fritz” Cerrinide Montevardi (1895–1985), at the concentration camp at Dachau for reasons of their homosexuality. V. says they’ll keep him in prison till he and his relatives pay a sufficient ransom, & then let him go with a swift kick in the pants.

I’m thrilled to hear that the door to the LandauNicolas Landau (1887–1979), an antiquities dealer known as “Le prince des antiquaires.” Born in Varsovia, he studied law in Paris before becoming an antiquities dealer in New York and then in Paris, where he had a business on the rue de Duras. ivoryBZ.1939.8. is still open. I may be able to get to Paris soon, and if I can I’ll drop in on Landau & hear what he has to say. But unless you particularly want me to do so (in which case please wire), I’m not for raising the offer just yet. I don’t think there’s much danger of their being able to sell elsewhere, given Marquet’s providential Gutachten:“Report.” indeed they may well be shy about showing it (or photos of it) just now. I’m as anxious, I think, as you are that you should get it, believe me, but I don’t want you to pay more than necessary for it.

Nothing further from MakridyTheodore Makridy (Macridy) (1872–1940), a Turkish archaeologist and curator who was the founding director of the Benaki Museum in Athens (1931–1940); he was the former keeper (1872–1931) of the Greek and Byzantine department and the assistant director (1925–1930) of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. about the lovely Gabriel ivory.Wing of a triptych with the Archangel Gabriel and the bust of Saint Paul, tenth century, ivory, Benaki Museum, Athens, inv. no. 10399. The ivory was donated to the Benaki Museum in 1939 by Stephanos and Penelope Delta. Reportedly, it was acquired from someone named Tozakoglu. See Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections (Athens: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Benaki Museum, 2013), 158–59, no. 76. Pazienza!“Patience.”

Speaking of that delectable tongue, here’s a little ditty that’s current there:

Quando Bandiera Rossa si cantava

qualche pollastrino (capon) si mangiava,

adesso che si canta Giovinezza,

si muore dalla debolezza.“When the Red Flag sang / One ate some capon, /Now that Youth sings / You die from weakness.”

If I go to London I’ll try to see that encolpionSee letter of December 24, 1938.—but I’m sure from the photo. that it’s nowhere near being worthy of D.O. The miniatures are late & torn & the frame clumsy: a miserable object.

Now about Kalek’s blue glass.This molded blue glass ewer has not been identified. I went to see Sangiorgi, and for the first time saw his collection of antique glass, which is an important one. He has an ΕΝΝΙωΝEnnion, a maker of mold-blown glass during the first half of the first century CE, probably in Sidon in Phoenicia (modern Lebanon). & it is a squat cut (he has promised me photos) signed in a cartouche like Kelek’s ΕΝΝΙωΝ ΕΠΟIΗƩΕΝ“Ennion made me.” and with another cartouche on the other side with MNHθH O AΓOPAΣωN (let the buyer remember) incidentally rather a facetious sentence. The material is sapphire hue glass like Keleks & the cup is intact.This glass cup is now in the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, acc. no. 66.1.36.

I asked Sangiorgi what he wanted for it. He replied his glass coll. is not for sale, but on my further inquiry he said he considered it to be worth about 20,000 Lire (i.e. at Tourist Lire rate, some $1000). He said another glass signed ΕΝΝΙωΝ—an amber coloured ewer, which from his sketch is rather like Kalek’s, but with foot missing, was offered him recently for 8,000 Lire, & he turned it down as too dear. He says he has gone into these ΕΝΝΙωΝ glasses, of which there are several known (one amphora, he says, in the Morgan Coll. in the Met. Mus. N.Y.)Glass jug, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 17.194.226. and they are all cast, not blown, and he thinks cast from moulds taken from silver vessels. He dwelt on the point that struck me & I mentioned in writing to Mildred: that the decoration of these vessels is not appropriate to glass, but to silver. He attributes them to time of Augustus. He doesn’t know how much Mr. MorganJohn Pierpont “J. P.” Morgan (1837–1913), an American financier, banker, philanthropist, and art collector. paid for his, but thinks that even at the moment of highest prices it can scarcely have been more than $5000 in Berlin in the boom years somewhere round 1927 or ‘28, and Sangiorgi bought it in 1932 for about $500 (sauf erreur“Unless I am mistaken.”).

This amply confirms my conviction that Kelek’s asking $35,000 for that ewer is an unheard-of piece of brass. I don’t think the piece belongs at D.O. at all. If you did want it, I’ll send along the photos. of Sangiorgi’s cupCorning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, acc. no. 66.1.36. if he comes across with them. He has nothing for us at present. He said he never ceased kicking himself for selling you the lion-tamer.BZ.1934.1. The next time you’ve in Rome you must go & see him. His antique gems are a wonderful array, & his polychrome glass, especially his coll. of aviculae (the little antque inlaid glasses with figures of birds, lizards etc. which are the embryo of translucent cloisonné enamel, some of them actually having gold cloisons, though sunk in a mass of glass paste instead of being backed in gold.

He also has one superb Persian carpet,The “Sangiorgi carpet.” Floral and arabesque carpet, East Persia, mid-sixteenth century. The present whereabouts of this carpet are unknown. See http://www.weavingartmuseum.org/plate21.html (accessed November 2, 2015). which was in the London show, & is in Pope’s book.Arthur Upham Pope, ed., A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1938), vol 3: 2363; vol. 6: pl. 1179.

I’ve heard from Bill how much they enjoyed their stay with you, and of your very generous gift to them of a car. Bill seems to be enjoying life. I hope the Fogg is as pleased with him as he is with the Fogg.

Much love to you both

R. T.

 
Associated Artworks: BZ.1934.1; BZ.1937.23; BZ.1938.62; BZ.1939.8