Robert Woods Bliss to Royall Tyler, May 21, 1938

May 21st, 1938

Dear Royall,

The thought of your actually being on the ocean and soon to arrive in New York pervaded our minds and conversation, and gives us infinite joy in contemplation of greeting you at Dumbarton Oaks in ten days.

It is useless to attempt—and quite unnecessary now—to go into the various matters covered by your recent and unanswered letters; but as promised I am sending you these lines to tell you of our plans. In the first place, I am disappointed that it is not possible to be in New York when you arrive. Nothing would have given me more pleasure than to have been at the dock to greet you on Monday. In the second, would you care to put up at our little apartmentBeginning in 1921, the Blisses rented an apartment at 969 Park Avenue in New York City. The apartment had two two bedrooms, two servants’ rooms, and two living rooms. But Mildred Barnes Bliss inherited her mother’s apartment at 525 Park Avenue after the death of Anna Barnes Bliss in 1935. this coming week? You would find it, I think, comfortable and you would be reasonably taken care of by the faithful Irish maid Catherine, who is in residence there. She could give you breakfast in the morning, but not luncheon or dinner. Telephones are at your disposal there and Catherine would be enchanted to have someone to look after. I shall write her that you may go to the apartment and if you would like to do so I suggest that you telephone from the dock (telephone number Butterfield 8-6935) to say you are going to the apartment and giving her a vague idea as to when you will arrive with your luggage. If you have other plans made, would you when you get up-town and find it convenient, telephone Catherine to say that you are not going to the apartment.

While you are in New York I should be obliged, if you have a moment, to have you stop in at the little place of an Italian named Piero Tozzi,Piero Vito Tozzi (1882–1974), an Italian antiquities dealer, artist, restorer, and professor who had galleries in New York and Florence. 32 East 57th Street (just across the street from Brummer’s!). He has a 13th century crossIn correspondence from Piero Tozzi to Robert Woods Bliss, dated April 11, 1938, this object is described as a “Rhenish Cross: The inscription in niello in the oval reads: ABBAS HILARIUS MAGISTER—FAV . . . ME FECIT—MON COLONI. The inscription in the circle around the small Cross that held the relic reads: IHESV—XP DE—LIGNO—SCE—CRUCIS—DNI—HIS—Height 25 inches—Width 16 inches.” In correspondence from Piero Tozzi to Robert Woods Bliss, dated May 6, 1938, Tozzi writes: “I have just received some information about the provenience of the Rhenish Cross which might interest you. Sometime ago Dr. Svarzensky of Princeton University asked me of I could find something about the provenience of the Cross, because seemed to him strange that it came from Italy. I therefore wrote to the former owner Marchese Peruzzi Dei Medici, and asked him how he came in possession of it. Marchese Peruzzi answered that unlike all the Crosses that he had collected for many years, of all periods and sizes, this particular one came to him by inheritance and probably in this way: Anna Maria Ludovica daughter of Cosimo III of Tuscany, sister of Gian Gastone the last of the Medici Grandukes and wife William Elector Palatine, recognized before she died in 1716 that her nearest relative was a Piero Paolo Dei Medici, and whose son Sverardo’s only daughter Anna Luigia having married the Cavakuere Bindo Peruzzi, the great-great grandfather of the present Marchese Peruzzi, allowed the Medici name to be attached to that of Peruzzi, in order that the name of her family might still be preserved. She left to the Perzzi beside a large legacy, jewels and personal belongings. When the Electress Anna Maria Ludovica, after the death of her husband returned to Florence, being a great collector of art like all the rest of her family, brought with her many if not all of the fine German paintings of Durer, Holbein, Cranach etc. that are now in the Uffizi Galleries and in the Pitti’s. That this Cross may have belonged to Anna Maria Ludovica, and from her passed to the Peruzzi seems quite evident, although at present I cannot say for sure, but I am certain that by making further researches the truth could be established. The object itself really does not need the building of a story around, but if something could be known is always interesting.” And in correspondence from Piero Tozzi to Robert Woods Bliss, dated May 27, 1938, he writes: “I enjoyed very much in meeting Mr. Royall Tyler, and I showed him the Rhenish Cross and a few other things. He said that he would come again to see me, but so far I haven’t seen him yet.” Byzantine Collection, Piero Tozzi correspondence file. which I would be glad to have you look at and also a small marble portable altar.In correspondence from Piero Tozzi to Robert Woods Bliss, dated June 10, 1938, he describes this object as a “Byzantine marble portable altar. The size is 8 – inches in width (square) and 7, 1/2 high.” Byzantine Collection, Piero Tozzi correspondence file. The cross was made in Cologne so that it is not an object which we are particularly desirous of acquiring though it is very good of its kind. The thought has occurred to me, however, that it might possibly be useful as an object of exchange. The conditions under which I could acquire it are favorable and I will explain them to you when we meet.

Tozzi is quite a character. He was for a short time in the Italian diplomatic service in a subordinate position; he was a painter and acquired while living in Florence a collection of Italians, though nothing of great importance. I think that he was also a professor at some university or other institution of learning in Florence. I think the little man is entirely honest and he has knowledge of his country’s art productions. He is simpatico.

Mildred and I are going to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Friday morning the 27th or possibly the night before, for the Bach Festival.The Bethlehem Bach Festival, an annual festival presented by the volunteer Bach Choir of Bethlehem, founded in 1898. The inaugural festival of 1900 included the first complete American performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor. We shall leave there late Saturday evening after the final rendition and suggest the idea of going to Philadelphia (about two and a half hours away by motor) and have you join us there for the night. The next day, Sunday, we could browse in the two museums and then come on to Washington. If this appeals to you we shall know it of course after consultation with you by telephone following your arrival. If you do not approve of this plan, then Mildred and I would arrange to arrive here Sunday afternoon, the 29th.

I suggest that you call on the telephone after you have settled yourself in whatever place you may be staying in New York. Monday afternoon we have a garden party here and I am out for dinner that night. I also have a committee meeting Tuesday morning so will not be available then, but Mildred can be reached any time after ten o’clock Tuesday morning.

We hope that you left Elisina well and also had good news of BetbilThe Bliss abbreviation for Bettine Tyler and William Royall Tyler. before you embarked. We shall be overjoyed to see you.

With love from us both,

Yours

RWB

Royall Tyler, Esquire

Passenger on board S.S. “Queen Mary”

New York City

 
Associated People: Joseph Brummer