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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, May 1, 1931 [2]

1.V.31Friday.

Poor old Vignier has been very ill for weeks past, and has had an operation. He now appears to be better, and convalescing, but I fear his affairs have not been going well, as his modern pictures are going to be sold on May 21 at the Hotel Drouot.Tableaux moderns. Aquarelles, pastels, dessins par Carrière, Delacroix, Derain, Gauguin, Maillol, Picasso, etc. Oeuvres de Cézanne, Courbet, Degas, Delacroix, Derain, Dufy, Forain, Gauguin, Maillol, Marchand, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Segonzac, Toulouse Lautrec, Vlaminck. Oeuvres importantes de Degas composant la collection de Monsieur Ch. V. dont La Vente Aura Lieu à Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Paris–21 mai 1931.

I went to see them today, and was told that a catalogue was sent to you by express a week ago, so you may receive it about the time you get this.

You probably remember the things. The only one which I imagine you might care to try for is the little Degas,Edgar Degas (born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas) (1834–1917), a French artist.Le Cafe de Chateaudun’ No. 7 of the catalogue. It is difficult to estimate prices at present, but I should think it might bring Frs. 100,000. It is a very good thing. I also like No. 23, Matisse,Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse(1869–1954), a French artist. ‘Les Pommes sur la Table.’Matisse, Apples on a Table, oil on canvas, 1916, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va., acc. no. 71.515.

Please wire me if there’s something you want me to try for,The Blisses would acquire the Degas painting, Ex.Coll.HC.P.1931.02.(E), at the Vignier sale. They later sold the painting to the dealers Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, on December 22, 1952. indicating catalogue numbers and give me limits. Prices in $, omitting thousands.

I have just had a heartrending letter, dictated by Jeremiah Smith to his sister. J. S’s sight has failed him: he is nearly blind. The occulist can’t find out what is the matter. They think his sight may return—when he had his breakdown in Jan. 1925 his sight was so much affected that for months he couldn’t read; it then improved slowly, and at length became almost normal. Of course he is bearing this as one would expect, but it is cruel to think of it: why should it just happen to him? It makes me feel sick of the world.

Conditions are very bad here financially, ruin on all sides. Octave HombergOctave Marie Joseph Homberg (1876–1941), a French diplomat and banker who had been the French financial agent in America and the president of the Commission of Exchange in France tasked with studying the means of maintaining the value of the franc abroad and remedying the consequences of the adverse commercial balance. has gone up the spout. His things are going to be sold in June.Collection Octave Homberg. Tableaux anciens—Oeuvres importantes de J.-F. Schall, aquarelle, dessin, gouache, pastels par J.-B. Huet, Maréchal, Pillement, H. Robert. Antiquités egyptiennes, grecques et romaines—Objets de haute curiosité européens et orientaux du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance. Faïences de Rhagès et de Damas—Miniatures et manuscrits persans—Emaux champlevés, ivoires, sculptures—Livres d’ heures—Velours—Tissus—Tapisseries gothiques—Magnifiques tapis persans du XVIe siècle. Meubles en laque et ébénisterie par J. Dubois, R. Dubois, B. V. R. B., Montigny—Sulptures—sièges en Savonnerie et tapisserie de Beauvais du XVIIIe siècle—Objets d’ art de la Chine, à la Galerie Georges Petit les mercredi 3, jeudi 4 et vendredi 5 Juin 1931, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 3–5, 1931. I don’t think there’s anything you’d want.

Considering everything, the value of fine works of art keeps up better than that of anything else, except Govt. bonds of A 1 countries. I think a well chosen collection would show better results today, at a public sale, than would be achieved by a portefeuille of stocks and shares—industrials and banking mixed, such as was considered very high-class two years ago.

Roman WisataRoman Wisata (b. 1909), a Czech violinist and the student and later assistant of Otakar Ševčík at the Innsbruck Konservatorium. is here, with the Lily (Css. L. Herberstein)Klothilde (“Lily”), Gräfin von Herberstein (1899–1975). who accompanies him—they are superb together. They’ve had much success, and are going to London next week.

May 2. Your cable has just come.See telegram of May 1, 1931 [1]. Many thanks for your opinion re Orient.This is a reference to Tyler’s possible assignment in China. See letter of April 11, 1931. Without having actually refused, I have told the friend who had been asked to sound me on the subject that I didn’t think I could go, so I don’t expect it will be formally offered to me—unless the appointment isn’t made until Salter reaches these shores, in June. He might have a go at me, and if he did . . . Well, I know you’re right. I ought not to.

As for the Vignier sale,Tableaux moderns. Aquarelles, pastels, dessins par Carrière, Delacroix, Derain, Gauguin, Maillol, Picasso, etc. Oeuvres de Cézanne, Courbet, Degas, Delacroix, Derain, Dufy, Forain, Gauguin, Maillol, Marchand, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Segonzac, Toulouse Lautrec, Vlaminck. Oeuvres importantes de Degas composant la collection de Monsieur Ch. V. dont La Vente Aura Lieu à Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Paris–21 mai 1931. I’m very glad you like the MatisseHenri-Émile-Benoît Matisse(1869–1954), a French artist. ‘Ch. à coucher.’This painting has not been identified. So do I. It is extraordinarily difficult to foretell what prices will be now. Things are so bad that everyone who possibly can put off selling does so. Georges Beraud,Jean-Georges Béraud (1849–1936), a French painter and collector. for instance, whom you know, and who went bust months ago, has a large collection of Moderns, including Matisse, Segonzac,André Dunoyer de Segonzac (1884–1974), a French painter and graphic artist. Derain.André Derain (1880–1954), a French artist. He had intended to sell this Spring, but is waiting, bust though he is. Poor Vignier, it seems, can’t wait.

I have just spoken on the telephone with Matisse’s daughter.Marguerite Matisse Duthuit (1894–1982), the daughter of the French painter Henri Matisse (1869–1954). She says (and she knows, for she transacts much of Matisse’s business for him) that she hasn’t the slightest idea what the Ch. à coucher will fetch. Two years ago she would have said Frs. 125,000. Today perhaps half that—or less, or more, no one can say, but she apprehends very bad prices indeed. The big nature morte, ‘Les pommes sur la table she would have priced Frs. 200,000, 2 years ago. Now? Perhaps Frs. 100,000.

As for the Degas, Vignier, according to his niece, refused Frs. 250,000 for it 2–3 years ago. I asked her what reserve he was going to put on it now, and she said they hadn’t yet made up their minds; she promises to let me know when they do.

Well, you’ll have had the catalogue, and will send me instructions.

Much love, dearest Mildred

Yrs
R. T.