Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, September 25, 1934 [1]

Finance Ministry,

Budapest

September 25, 1934

Dear Robert,

Just a line to tell you that Milliken,William Mathewson Milliken (1889–1978), a medievalist art historian and director of the Cleveland Museum of Art between 1930 and 1958. of Cleveland, was here the other day. He had just been in Germany and told me that he had been approached with an offer of the celebrated Goldene Tafel,Crucifixion icon, Byzantine, first half of the twelfth century, gold and enamel, 24.3 cm x 17.5 cm x 0.1 cm, 430 gr., Reiche Kapelle, Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich. See Reinhold Baumstark, ed., Rom und Byzanz: Schatzkammerstücke aus bayerischen Sammlungen (Munich: Hirmer for Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, 1998), 44, no. 30. which I had always imagined belonged to the ReichskapelleThe Reiche Kapelle, the private chapel built by Duke Maximilian I (1573–1671) in the Wittelsbach residence (the Residenz) in Munich. The Reiche Kapelle was dedicated in 1607 and housed the duke’s collection of relics. at Munich, but which Milliken tells me is, unlike the other contents of the Reichskapelle, actually the property of the House of Wittelsbach,The House of Wittelsbach, a German royal family from Bavaria. Members of the family served as dukes, electors, and kings of Bavaria (1180–1918), counts palatine of the Rhine (1214–1803 and 1816–1918), margraves of Brandenburg (1323–1373), counts of Holland, Hainaut, and Zeeland (1345–1432), elector-archbishops of Cologne (1583–1761), dukes of Jülich and Berg (1614–1794/1806), kings of Sweden (1441–1448 and 1654–1720), and dukes of Bremen-Verden (1654–1719). The family also provided two holy roman emperors (1328 and 1742), one king of the Romans (1400), two anti-kings of Bohemia (1619 and 1742), one king of Hungary (1305), one king of Denmark and Norway (1440), and a king of Greece (1832–1862). which therefore has a right to sell it. Milliken said the price mentioned to him was $70,000.

You doubtless have a photograph of the object, which we had at the Byzantine Exhibition in 1931? It is of course a thing of very great importance, on account of its dimensions and unimpeachable antecedents. Milliken greatly lamented that Cleveland could not produce the sum to buy It.

I must add that, as a work of art, it does not greatly appeal to me. I know many smaller enamels that I consider much better. Personally, I would rather possess the BurnsWalter Spencer Morgan Burns (1891–1929), a British art collector and financier, was a nephew of J. Pierpont Morgan and a partner in his firm, J. P. Morgan and Co., as of December 31, 1897. CrossBZ.1936.20. At this time, the reliquary cross was owned by Ruth Evelyn Cavendish-Bentinck Burns, the widow of Walter Spencer Morgan Burns. which I believe is still in the hands of DreyThe 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. In New York, Aaron Drey’s grandson, Paul Drey (1885–1953), was a senior partner of the Paul Drey Gallery, founded in 1920. in New York, and which I fancy could be bought for about one fifth of the price asked for the Goldene Tafel. However, the Goldene Tafel is such a morsel that I thought I had better tell you about it. If by any chance you have not got the photograph, you might get one from Giraudon,Adolphe and Georges Giraudon founded a photographic library in 1877 in Paris that specialized in photographic reproductions for “artists and scholars.” See Monique Le Pelley Fonteny, Adolphe et Georges Giraudon: Une bibliothèque photographique (Paris: Somogy, 2005). 9 Rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris, who certainly photographed it during the show.

Yours ever,

R. T.

 
Associated Places: Budapest (Hungary); Paris (France)
Associated Things: Byzantine Exhibition of 1931
Associated Artworks: BZ.1936.20