Mildred Barnes Bliss to Royall Tyler, July 29, 1938

July 29, 1938.

M. Royall Tyler,

Comite de Finances

Societe des Nations,

Geneve, Suisse.

Such a nourishing and welcome batch of letters to thank you for, dearest Royall. I really feel as if I had followed you day by day since the unhappy one of your departure. MelchiorSee letter of June 24, 1938. has been added to the family Pantheon. Some day let us go to see the BarlowsSamuel L. M. Barlow (1892–1982), the American composer, pianist, and critic, and his wife Ernesta Beaux Barlow (née Aimee Ernesta Drinker). at Eze.Le Château Barlow, the French Riviera house of Samuel L. M. Barlow at Èze in the Alpes-Maritimes near Nice. See René Juta, “The House of Samuel L. Barlow Esq. at Eze, in the Alpes-Maritimes,” Vogue Magazine, February 15, 1927. They have a dream place there.

Secretly I must admit that I have dreaded going to see “Snow White”Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a American animated film produced by Walt Disney in 1937. for fear it would affect me just as it evidently affected you,See letter of June 24, 1938. so you have relieved me of any doubt as to its being a duty to see—and hear the thing!

Kelek has not yet been heard from and we impatiently await his letter and photograph of the objects. That sapphire blue ewerThis molded blue glass ewer has not been identified. seems too good to be true. But what can we do about those prices? It is too amusing his saying that Robert always beats him down. Of course he does. What a fool we should be if we followed Kelek’s first figures. And whereas the first figures may be put up so as to enable him to graciously come down, that was certainly not the case with HestiaBZ.1929.1. as he never came down and kept us some seventeen years!The Blisses acquired this textile in June 1929. This letter suggests that they began negotiating for its acquisition around 1912. What shall we do? One can’t talk to a child-like Oriental like that as one would to a grown-up Anglo Saxon. Perhaps Vigny’s [sic] procedure with Roland Red [sic]Rowland S. Read, a textile collector. Mildred Barnes Bliss wrote Royall Tyler about the collector Rowland S. Read on March 1, 1930: “I am almost certain he is the hybrid with whom Vignier had such a Rabelaisian time trying to extract that tiny bit of tissue over which we lost our heads.” would be the one. Ask him to dine. Give him much and very sweet coffee and dangle a little bag made of old silk containing coin before his eyes and say “This and no more”. Something has got to be done because I have a feeling that those two Byzantine pieces—the glassThis molded blue glass ewer has not been identified. and the potteryBZ.1939.31.—will have to come to Dumbarton Oaks and certainly nothing approaching the price he mentioned to you can be paid for them. Do think about this and have some inspiration as to the sort of technique we might use.

Neither have we yet heard from HirschJacob Hirsch (1874–1955), a German-Swiss numismatist, archaeologist, and antiquities dealer. and we long for a squeeze of that Honorius medaillonThis gold medallion of Honorius has not been identified. and hope it will come before the 7th when we leave for Wyoming.

By the way did we tell you to use Milrobert, New York if you had occasion to cable us between August 7 and September 7?

Don’t you think that the RiemenschneiderHC.S.1937.006.(W). and the Striegel [sic]HC.P.1930.04.(O). should be borne in mind the next time anything important has to be handled through F?Mildred Bliss’s meaning is unclear.

We also impatiently await further news of the KhawamKhawam Brothers, an antiquities business that was founded in Cairo in 1862 by Sélim Khawam. lot.BZ.1938.64–65, BZ.1938.66, and BZ.1938.67. Delectable from the photographs. I hope he will soon be able to show them to you.

Mad.BZ.1938.62. is due in Baltimore August 4th and they have promised to get it here for us to see by Saturday, the 6th so that we shall not eat our hearts out on the backs of bronchos. Thanks for the pedigree, and don’t you think perhaps F. could obtain a release for the publication of the Emperor.BZ.1937.23. In correspondence from Royall Tyler to Barbara Sessions, dated July 2, 1938, he writes: “About Dumbarton Oaks Papers No 1, I fear that there is no chance of agreement by the late owner of the round Emperor, and even less the Madonna, being published early in 1939. I’ve recently seen Fiedler, who again insisted on the 2 year close season. However, we’ll prepare a paper on them, so as to be ready to shoot when the time comes. As for the signatures on Paper No 1, I fear there has been a misunderstanding. I wrote to Mrs. Bliss urging here to admit H.P. with R.T., and saying that unless she cabled objecting I would assume she agreed. I have had from her no objection, and have therefore gone ahead on the assumption that she did agree. I have asked Peirce to vet and, if he thinks fit, propose changes in my draft on the elephant-tamer silk. I’m afraid that makes it impossible to change now. I’ve kept Mrs. Bliss informed, all along.” Byzantine Collection, Royall Tyler correspondence file. Would that, do you think, be a better Number I for the Dumbarton Oaks papers than a textile?Hayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, “Elephant Tamer Silk, VIIIth Century,” in Three Byzantine Works of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 2 (1941): 19–26. And if GothaSee letters of April 8, 1937April 8, 1937April 9, 1937April 9, 1937April 16, 1937April 16, 1937May 22, 1937June 3, 1937June 16, 1937June 26, 1937July 6, 1937July 25, 1937August 21, 1937September 4, 1937October 25, 1937November 23, 1937December 13, 1937February 28, 1938March 31, 1938July 10, 1938August 10, 1938August 16, 1938; December 20, 1938; and January 3, 1939. could only fall into the net in time certainly that and LuccaBZ.1937.18. reunited would be the best take-off of all.

We are delighted and touched that you were willing to make the great effort of writing the first paperHayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, “Elephant Tamer Silk, VIIIth Century,” in Three Byzantine Works of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 2 (1941): 19–26. for an October issue. I know what it would have meant and we were more pleased than I can well express. So we are correspondingly glad not to have to put that strain upon you. If the article is on hand by the end of October it will do perfectly, as we shall not be able to get the first paper published before February 1st. Photographs of the elephant tamerBZ.1927.1. will be sent you next week. It is, as you say, Virgo Intacta and most interesting problems are raised by it, and your choice pleased us. As for the signature, of course, my dear, the old firm “O. and F.”Since the “old firm” is Peirce and Tyler, the initials more logically would be “P and T.” Possibly this is the stenographer’s mistake. stands on all general principles, but I wondered if Hayford himself wouldn’t see, and be rather amused and touched than otherwise, that we wanted, for sheer sentiment’s sake, to have Dumbarton Oaks make its first bow to the reading public over your signature alone—just this once and then revert to the P. and T. What do you think? Would he understand or would he be hurt? We wouldn’t for the world do that but after all fifty years is quite a little background, and as Gioia said “There is only one Bill” I can add “And there is also only one Royall.” We reject the idea of the Golden Tapfel [sic].Crucifixion, Byzantine, first half of the twelfth century, gold and enamel, Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich. See Klaus Wessel, Byzantine Enamels from the Fifth to the Thirteenth Century (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society Ltd., 1967), 166–67, no. 51, pl. 51. That, we feel, is not for us.

And now, my dear, for Elisina.Elisina Tyler had suffered “apolplexy,” probably a stroke, in May 1938. See also letters of June 18, 1938; June 28, 1938; July 2, 1938; July 10, 1938; and July 13, 1938. The picture you have drawn catches me at the throat. The finality of the milestone passed is frightening and seems to put one into another gear. How one wishes none of this wretched business had been!—How one regrets the price. How twisted and unhappy it all is and how different from what poor Edith would have wished. I am thankful to learn from B.F. that a settlement has been reached on a fifty-fifty basis which I suppose is not thoroughly satisfactory to either party but it is better than uncertainties, and to have the chapter closed was desirable. Now that I know Elisina is convalescing and able to have a friend or two stop with her, and by going slowly enjoy a portion of the day, I shall write her again but not dwell too much on what has befallen her even by implication, and you wiil keep me well informed, won’t you, of any change that occurs. The timbre of the voice has such an intimate relation with one’s personality that I quivered at the realization of what that first telephone talk must have been for you.

And then to have this letter from Gioia on top of it all. . . My poor dear Growler,Mildred Barnes Bliss’s nickname for Royall Tyler. what a year you are spending. Gioia’s affection for Bill is quite touching and her letter excellent in tone. Now this is what Robert and I very strongly feel about Bill. He is a rara avis and wasted in the banking world. He must be got out of it and put into the museum and academic life that his whole nature craves. But even should there not be a berth for him at the Fogg within the next year,William Royall Tyler was interested in enrolling in the museum studies program at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. he must have a technical course before he will receive a post anywhere. Time is precious and he must not linger on running this hideous risk at the bank. Please get him out of it and to Antigny for a rest. And then send him and his little family to Cambridge where he can make himself a little home and take his post graduate course as a present from us. Robert asks me to say that he will talk it over with Forbes on Monday when he is there and with Sachs by telephone next week, but that whether or not a definite promise can be obtained for next year. Bill should come and do the preparatory work, and we feel reasonably certain that it will not be long before a place will be made for him on the staff of the Fogg which will bring him into close contact with Dumbarton Oaks, which is what we most want. The post graduate course comes to $420 a year, the $20 being optional for medical attendance, etc. In his letter to Robert, Bill said he must have $2,100 per annum and we would like your opinion as to whether this sum will include the $400 tuition fees, or should that be added? We stand ready to see Bill, Betsy and the babyRoyall Tyler (b. 1936), the first child of Bettine Tyler and William Royall Tyler, was born in London. After earning a BA in Far Eastern Languages from Harvard University and a PhD in Japanese literature from Columbia University, he became a scholar and translator of Japanese literature. He presently lives in Australia in New South Wales. through for a year from this autumn up to $2,500, if that amount is what he must have.

You mustn’t wait for doctors’ reports and let Bill linger on at the Bank. It isn’t good enough and the margin is too narrow to tamper with. So, my dear, let us hear from you, as soon as may be, when you are expecting Bill to give in his resignation, to be at Antigny, and to sail for America. We shall send you supplementary information regarding rents and costs of living at Cambridge. You can’t think what it will mean to us both to have Bill and Betsy nearby and able to spend weekends at Dumbarton Oaks during the coming year. On every count it seems to us excellent that he should want to come to this country and that Betsy can look upon the change with such equanimity.

M. Girodie,André Girodie (1874–1946?), a curator of the Musée National de la Coopération Franco-Américaine (National Museum of Franco-American Cooperation), which was housed in the seventeenth-century château of Blérancourt in Aisne. directeur du Musée Franco-Americain à Blérancourt,The château of Blérancourt in Aisne was constructed to designs by the French architect Salomon de Brosse between 1612 and 1619 as the country residence of the Gesvres family. Today, it houses the Musée National de la Coopération Franco-Américaine (National Museum of Franco-American Cooperation). says he would like data and exhibits of Edith’s oeuvre.There is a room at the Musée National de la Coopération Franco-Américaine dedicated to Edith Wharton’s contributions during the First World War. As I am sure it is not the sort of thing I should bother Elisina with at the moment, will you take it up when you think best? Mlle. MalyeThérèse Malye (1866–1951) had been Mildred Barnes Bliss’s Parisian secretary. (whose new address is 16, rue Perignon, Suffren 17-99) has been in communication with him over our stuff which is now at Blérancourt and she can tell you exactly what Girodie wants or help you out in any way by writing him.

July 30, 1938.

Your letter of the 20th has just come in. What an angel you were to write the paperHayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, “Elephant Tamer Silk, VIIIth Century,” in Three Byzantine Works of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 2 (1941): 19–26. on the elephant tamerBZ.1927.1. so promptly. Bless you! This will give more time now for the search for photographs and we agree with you that as many reproductions as useful should be included in the publication.

Tell Hayford, if you send it to him, to then forward it to us here and it will be useful for us to know the approximate number of reproductions in discussing the final arrangements for the book—Qua Book. As there is no release probably for the EmperorBZ.1937.23. until the date fixed—and by the way what is the date?—there will surely not be one for Mad.BZ.1938.62. So I imagine the second Dumbarton Oaks Paper will be Hanfmann’sGeorge Maxim Anossov Hanfmann (1911–1986), a Russian-born ancient Mediterranean archaeologist and art historian. He was curator of ancient art at the Fogg Art Museum from 1949 to 1974, and he taught at Harvard University from 1935 until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1982. Opus on the Barberini Sarcophagus.This was not published until 1951. George M. A. Hanfmann, The Season Sarcophagus in Dumbarton Oaks (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951).

Directly we hear from you regarding the KhawamKhawam Brothers, an antiquities business that was founded in Cairo in 1862 by Sélim Khawam. matterPossible acquisition of the objects BZ.1938.64–65, BZ.1938.66, and BZ.1938.67. we will answer, though remember there will, of necessity, be delays once we leave Washington. Cables, telegrams and telephones can reach us, but there is only one mail in and one mail out a week, and the incoming one arrives three hours after the outgoing one leaves the ranch.

It is indeed good to hear that Elisina is making progress and I am wondering if the presence of Betbill would be fatiguing for her or him or refreshing to them both. It is so important for her not to have anything extra put upon her. On the other hand, Antigny would be so much the best place for Bill if that can be managed.

Tell me, too, what you think of Great Britain’s latest move in Czechoslovakia.In 1938, Adolf Hitler, chancellor of Germany, made plans to invade Czechoslovakia, especially the area of the Sudetenland. In response, Great Britain chose a policy of appeasement, and British prime minister Neville Chamberlain chose to negotiate with Hitler over the Sudenten crisis rather than offer Czechoslovakia military support. Hitler demanded that the Sudetenland be handed over to Germany, and on September 29, 1938, Chamberlain agreed that areas containing more than fifty percent Germans should be handed back to Germany. Great Britain eventually declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. I more than agree with you that the Grand Jury’s mentioning Germany in the big spy ring case was reminiscent of the von PapenLieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen (1879–1969), a German politician who served as chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as vice chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934. Papen was expelled from the United States during the First World War for his complicity in planning the sabotage of U.S. rail lines. days and quite significant.See letter of September 8, 1936.

Of course, I will keep you informed as best I can of the popular reactions in this country to any European problem of moment. Thank you, my dear, for telling us that on the whole you were not displeased with your impressions of the United States, which perhaps will assure us of another visit from you before too long. Above all, don’t let the S.D.N.“League of Nations.” make a hack out of you. I can well believe they are understaffed, and the work full of burdensome detail, but you were made for other things and don’t become their financial housekeeper.

Our best messages to Salter when you write, and urge him to come back again next year. Dearest love,

Always,

M.B.

There has just been passed on to us by the Boston Mus., Burg’sDr. Hermann Burg, a dealer in London at 32 St. James Street. offer of a “characteristic and unusually fine example of Regensburg weaving of the XIII C. Vide Falke Seidenweberei, Vol. II, No. 310 opp. p. 42.”Otto von Falke, Kunstgeschichte der Seidenweberei (Berlin: Wasmuth, 1936), 2:no. 310, opp. P. 42. What do you think of it? No price was quoted. Size 45” x 27 1/2”. Bill might have a look and get the price. What ought Burg (32 St. James Street S.W.I) to get for it? I find it has character of a stereotyped sort and not represented chez us. But one can judge neither the colour nor texture fr. the photo. Miss Townsend,Gertrude Townsend, a curator of textiles at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Curator of Textiles, has studied the piece and admires it. The Mus. didn’t acquire it because other textiles submitted simultaneously “seemed relatively more important for us”. An opinion, please.

M.B.