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Mildred Barnes Bliss to Royall Tyler, March 1, 1930

El MirasolThe Blisses were staying at the El Mirasol Hotel, the 1904 former residence of Albert and Adele Herter, rather than at their parents’ home, Casa Dorinda, very likely because the latter was still under reconstruction from damage suffered in the earthquake of 1925.
Santa Barbara
California
March 1, 1930Saturday.

Mr. Royall Tyler
20 rue d’Astorg
Paris, France.

Dearest Royall,

This is but a scrappy acknowledgement of your last batch of letters greedily devoured. Being constantly on the move, I thought I would let you know that your letters of December 23,Actually letter of December 26, 1929. 28 and 30, January 20Actually letter of January 26, 1930. and February 10 have all been read and pondered upon. The photographs we have enjoyed and I return these of the Boucher tapestriesSee letter of January 26, 1930. with great regret because they are interesting but not for our rooms, alas! The Gothic onesSee letters of January 26, 1930, and February 10, 1930. we are keeping and shall hope perhaps to see them in France.

Tomorrow we leave for Washington and New York respectively, stopping over in Chicago to see the Museum and for some Argentine business: then, I join Robert in Washington and during the three weeks before we sail, shall be going to most of the Eastern cities on business of one sort or another, so proper letter-writing will have to go by the board and I shall resort to cabling or notes like this.

1. Byzantine collections; there seem to be none. The good things are probably in the Metropolitan, Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago Museums as well as in the Morgan Library. There are a lot of spurious Byzantine enamels floating around the country, I shall locate what I can and let you know.

2. We shall take over to Paris with us the Coptic textile from Kelekian’s, thinking you will want that for the show.Byzantine Exhibition of 1931.

3. Hulin de LooGeorges Charles Nicolas Marie Hulin de Loo (1862–1945), a Belgian early Flemish painting specialist. and the Ministère des Sciences et Beaux-Arts writes us from Brussels, requesting the loan of Maitre de Flamalle for the exhibition to be held there in May.The Blisses lent the painting, Portrait of a Lady (HC.P.1923.01.[O]), then attributed to the Maître de Flamalle and now attributed to Jacques Daret, to the Exposition internationale coloniale, maritime et d’art flamand—Exposition d’art flamand ancien in Antwerp, May–September 1930.

4. Do you know one Roland [sic] S. Read?Rowland S. Read, a textile collector. From the two copies I enclose you will see his syntax is a little off and the workings of his mind as well. I am almost certain he is the hybrid“Homosexual.” with whom Vignier had such a Rabelaisian timeFrançois Rabelais (ca. 1494–1553), a French Renaissance writer, doctor, and humanist. Mildred Barnes Bliss’s use of “Rabelaisian time” is probably meant to suggest “outrageous” or “farcical.” trying to extract that tiny bit of tissu“Textile.” over which we lost our heads.The Blisses had acquired a Seljuq silk damask textile fragment (BZ.1929.101) from Vignier in June 1929. They subsequently acquired two more fragments: BZ.1930.1, in July 1930, from Indjoudjian Frères; and BZ.1934.6 in August 1934 from Rowland S. Read. Please investigate and see if what he says is true and really has more of the precious fabric and is willing to part with any of it under a milliard.

5. We wired you to send us more particulars about Burn’s [sic]Walter Spencer Morgan Burns (1891–1929), British art collector and financier, was a nephew of J. Pierpont Morgan and a partner in his firm, J. P. Morgan & Co., as of December 31, 1897. enamel because we found we had to go piano on purchases, and though what you say of this one convinces us of its importance, as you have not seen it yourself nor have we, the question of personal preference is unanswered. I think you know that the delight of enamels, one specimen of which I crave to possess, is the transparent, limpid enamel of which Stoclet has a tiny pendant.This pendant is later described as a roundel and “probably Western and not Byzantine” and, again, as Longobardic “strongly influenced by Byzantine.” See letters of October 23, 1929; March 25, 1930; and August 21, 1933. Communicate with us either Milrobert New York or care Ellis Russell,Ellis Russell, Robert Woods Bliss’s secretary in New York. 43 Wall Street, New York, because he will know where we are each day and there will be no loss of time in reaching us.

6. Your description of the Vignier mosaicsSee also letters of December 14, 1929; December 17, 1929 [1]; December 17, 1929 [2]; December 18, 1929; December 26, 1929; and January 6, 1930. interests us and answers several of our presentiments.

The tale of the ‘Byz’ plate bought by the LouvreSee also letters of February 5, 1929; February 9, 1929; March 11, 1929; March 27, 1929; and December 26, 1929. is also illuminating as is the purchase of the cameo from the Grüneisen sale by the Cabinets des Medailles.See letters of July 17, 1929, and December 26, 1929.

7. Thank you for your most interesting account of your trip in Southeastern Europe; of welt and politik we must talk when we meet and of Bulgarian archaeology quite as much!

8. On our way up the West Coast, we had a day at Lima and there saw some very remarkable pre-Inca textiles, recently unearthed, of which one or two were loaned to the Sevilla Exposition.The Ibero-American Exposition was a world’s fair held in Seville, Spain, between May 9, 1929, and June 21, 1930. The largest of the ten pavilions at the exposition was the Peruvian pavilion, which was designed by Peruvian architect Don Manuel Piquera. The pavilion contained a large archeology collection consisting of three halls filled with Pre-Columbian artifacts. These things are unlike any fabric known, though they recall the Coptic designs; for evenness of weave, variety and brilliancy of color, they are unique, and open the door to a study of a hitherto unsuspected civilization. We are agog over the matter and shall have much to tell you. Are you going to be able to come to South America before January 1931?

9. Congratulations on the progress made toward the Dark Ages Exhibition,Art in the Dark Ages in Europe (circa 400–1000 AD), an exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, in 1930. See Reginald A. Smith, “Art in the Dark Ages,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 57, no. 328 (July 1930): 3–10. as well as toward the Byzantine one.Byzantine Art Exhibition of 1931. Having to miss the former costs us dear. It is a good stroke of work to have got Fettich enlisted. This show ought to be a very important pathfinder.

10. We like very much your rabbi who didn’t want ‘Gott’ to be zudringlich!See letter of December 30, 1929.

11. Yes, indeed, what a year! It has been bad for you three and bad for us two, and 1931 which will be worse for us, I hope will be better for you. It is only now that we learn of Elisina’s bad time, your letter to Argentine having followed us up here, so we cabled our love and sympathy and I shall write you at the very first opportunity. Zona“Shingles.” See letter of December 28, 1929. means that even her strong will couldn’t get the best of nature after her long strain, and I know what the pain and wear of it is and am heartily sorry. But at last Bill is in on the high road again. A few happy and delightful letters have come from him. He is certainly going to write. Is it going to be a case of Tyler pere and Tyler tout court, or is he going to be Tyler fils?“Is it going to be a case of Tyler the elder and, simply, Tyler, or is he going to be Tyler the younger?”

The arrangements you have made seem to be admirable and it is a great thing for him to have been steeped in the best music. I am so happy to know we shall see him in Paris for that is one of the things I really want.

Our plans, though of necessity vague until Robert shall have been to the Department,Department of State, Washington, D.C. are to sail about the 10th of April, when his leave expires, and after a week in London go to Paris until taking the Argentine plunge once more from Villefranche we hope. My mother is now in India, so that I shall have my annual visit with her which it would be a heavy cross to me to miss, and now, my dear, goodnight. This letter will have to be signed by another hand than mine so as not to follow me across the continent. There are a great many things going on in my mind these months and I look forward to talking with you more than ever before, and that is saying much.

Excuse this being by dictation, I have written my hand to a standstill on the Swedish bookMildred Barnes Bliss worked on a book on Sweden that was never published. The manuscript for this book has not been located. which is now nearing conviction, praise be! It is not a light task to write a book when one is traveling on boats and on trains and our short visit here has been ruined by the retched thing.

Papa is very well and Robert, with iron-grey hair, is better than I have known him before.

My dear love to Elisina and to Bill, and to you, more than you know, Robert joins in it all.

Mildred B Bliss By EM Faine.

MBB/EMF
(2 encls & photos)