Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, June 14, 1934

N.Y. 14.VI.34

I’m so touched by Robert’s coming here to have a last day with me, dearest Mildred—if anything could console me for not seeing you again, it would be his coming. But I’m sad indeed. Well . . hasta otro rato,“Until another time.” this next winter.

I beg to report that I haven’t missed a single morning’s exercise since I left Washington, and that I comply strictly with Siposs’sEmery Siposs (1893–1948), Mildred Barnes Bliss’s and Robert Woods Bliss’s personal exercise trainer. breakfast rules.

I’ve had a good session with Belle da C. G.,Belle da Costa Greene (1883–1950), the librarian to J. P. Morgan and, after his death in 1913, to his son Jack Morgan and the Morgan Library in New York. very pleasant. She started off with high praise of our Vol. IL’art byzantin. and anxious enquiries for the rest. I thanked her, touched on the thorny nature of the task, and said we should be most grateful for any criticisms or suggestions. She said oh, no, she hadn’t the slightest criticism to offer, the work was grand etc, etc. It all went off very nicely, and she showed me all her Byz. things.

Yesterday, Hayford and I had the cases in the Morgan roomMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Pierpont Morgan Wing, previously named Wing F, was renamed in 1910 in honor of J. Pierpont Morgan and his son. The majority of objects exhibited in these galleries had been either gifts or loans from the Morgans. open and spent some hours examining the CyprusThe Cyprus Treasure, consisting of six (of nine) silver plates on the subject of the Biblical David and a horde of jewelry and gold (17.190.146–399), was discovered in 1902 in Karavás (northern Cyprus) and acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan, who gave the treasure to the Metropolitan Museum in 1917. See O. M. Dalton, “Byzantine Plate and Jewellery from Cyprus in Mr. Morgan’s Collection,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 10, no. 48 (March 1907): 355–57 and 360–62. and AlbanianThe Albanian or Avar Treasure, consisting of twenty-seven Avar and Byzantine silver and gold objects (17.190.1673–1701), was found in Vrap, eastern Albania, and acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan, who gave them to the Metropolitan Museum in 1917. See Melanie Holcomb, “‘Ugly but . . . important’: The Albanian Hoard and the Making of the Archaeological Treasure in the Early Twentieth Century,” Early Medieval Europe 16, no. 1 (February 2008): 3–22. treasures, both of which have been attached. We are more convinced than ever of their authenticity, and also that, in the case of the Cyprus treasure, the cleaners didn’t do more than to freshen up some of the minor surface ornament where it had been blurred by crusting, and that that only happened in one or two places.

Saw Hearst’sWilliam Randolph Hearst (1863–1951), an American newspaper publisher and politician. things—not the Aboucassem lot,It is unknown what objects Hearst had acquired from Abucasem that were in storage at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during Royall Tyler’s visit. which is in storage. Fine Hispano,In 1956, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired for the Cloisters a number of Hispano-Moresque ceramics that had been in the collection of William Randolph Hearst. It is possible that these ceramics and other Spanish artworks from the Hearst Collection were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1934. These include acc. nos. 56.171.72, 96a–b, 122, 140, and 145. but frightful lot of junk on the whole.The dealer Germaine Seligman, the son of Jacques Seligmann, made a similar observation on his visit to the New York apartment of William Randolph Hearst in 1913. In his book, Merchants of Art: 1880–1960, Eighty Years of Professional Collecting (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1961), 86–87, he wrote: “My most vivid recollections of that visit are the height of the ceiling of the great apartment, the magnificent early tapestries, and the superb group of Hispano-Moresque earthenware of the 15th and early 16th centuries. This was a field in which my father was a connoisseur, and he was happy to see again, beautifully shown in glass cases, the chamois-and-blue plates and the rare alberelli which had been acquired from him. I dare say Hearst’s collection in that field was the most important outside Spain. Next to these works of art, rather austere in their severity of design, was a large collection of German silver of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, over-ornate, and of little interest to my father. These two contrasting groups were the collector’s great pride. The buying methods of this dynamic personality were very strange; nobody I have known showed simultaneously such a voracious desire to acquire and so little discrimination in doing it. Hearst often purchased superb examples of real aesthetic merit, but he also acquired hundreds of items of no artistic or historic interest.”

Bill has found a charming little flat, 14 E. 90th, just by the Museum, and has taken it as fr. 15 Sept.

Fondest blessings, dearest Mildred, and gratitude for bringing me here.

R. T.

 
Associated Things: L'art byzantin