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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, October 2, 1930

Hotel Esplanade
Berlin W9, den 2.X.1930Thursday.
Bellevuestrade
Kurfürst 6751

I have paid for the Strighel [sic], dearest Mildred, and have had it well packed, and have handed it over to the Embassy, who will get it conveyed to Paris with the bag. It makes a pretty big package.

The WelfenschatzThe Guelph treasure, also known as the Welfenschatz, a collection of reliquaries and liturgical objects, of the Brunswick Cathedral. The treasure had been privatized in 1866. In early 1930, a consortium of three Frankfurt art dealers, Max Zacharias Hackenbroch, the firm of J. Rosenbaum, and the firm of J. and S. Goldschmidt, acquired eighty-two pieces of the treasure which were exhibited and sold. is on view here, minus two of the best things which have already been bought by Cleveland: a superb olifant,Oliphant of Saint Blasius, ivory, Byzantine, eleventh century. See William M. Miliken, “The Acquisition of Six Objects from the Guelph Treasure for the Cleveland Museum of Art,” Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 17, no. 9 (November, 1930): 168–69 and 174. and a celebrated roundel,Medallion with the Bust of Christ (“The Cumberland Medallion”), from the Guelph Treasure, late eighth century, cloisonné enamel and gold on copper, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1930.504. See William M. Miliken, “The Acquisition of Six Objects from the Guelph Treasure for the Cleveland Museum of Art,” Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 17, no. 9 (November 1930): 174–76. enamelled, probably German of the 9th cent.

There remain the famous Welfenkreuz,Guelph Cross, before 1045 or early twelfth century, gold, silver gilt, gems, pearls, enamel, and niello on wood core, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, W1. The cross was one of forty-two pieces acquired by the Staatliche Museen, Berlin, in 1935. gold enamelled, probably early XIe, and two other gold crosses, with filigree and cloisonné enamels, also XIe, and either N. Ital. or German. The 2 or 3 straight Byz. things are very poor, and the German Romanesque and Gothic also, with few exceptions.

At the Kaiser Friedrich there is a special show of Sassanian, chiefly comprising the objects excavated by Kuhnel at Ctesiphon,Ernst Kühnel (1882–1964), the curator of Islamic art at the Kaiser-Friedrich (now Bode) Museum in Berlin. In 1930–1931, he excavated the site of the Sasanian capital city of Ctesiphon on the Tigris River south of Baghdad in Iraq. but also everything else Sassanian they can scrape together out of the Berlin Museums. Exhibited with them, on loan, is a perfectly marvellous Sass. silver dish.Plate with King Hunting Rams, Sasanian, ca. mid-fifth to mid-sixth century CE, silver, mercury gilding, and niello inlay, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 34.33. Bahram GourBahram Gur or Bahram V, the fourteenth Sassanid king of Persia between 421 and 438. He was famous for his abilities at hunting. on horseback hunting moufflons,Big horned sheep. nielloed and parcel gilt, in high relief and glorious in style, which belongs to Kevorkian,Hagop Kevorkian (1872–1962), a Turkish-Armenian archeologist, collector, and dealer of Middle Eastern antiquities. now estab. in N.Y. I had it out of the case and examined it minutely, and am sure it is genuine. Sarre,Friedrich Sarre (1865–1945), a German Orientalist, archaeologist, art historian, and collector of Islamic art. Between 1921 and 1931, Sarre was director of the Islamic department in the former Kaiser Friedrich Museum, now the Museum of Islamic Art, in Berlin. who showed it to me, also accepts it without reserve. The N.Y. Brummer, who was here for the sale, asked me if I’d seen it, and said he thought it was a fake.A number of Sasanian pieces represented by Hagop Kevorkian are now considered to be modern forgeries. See Oscar White Muscarella, The Lie Became Great: The Forgery of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures (Groningen: Styx Publications, 2000), 215n68. Remembering other occasions: the Andronikos-Stoclet enamels,Little is known about the Istanbul antiquities dealer Andronikos. The pieces included an enameled cross, two enameled “jewels,” and a ring; they were eventually acquired by Adolphe Stoclet. See letters of April 29, 1928; May 10, 1928; September 12, 1928; and October 23, 1929. Precisely which enamels came from Andronikos is not easy to ascertain. The cross is possibly the enameled reliquary cross from the Stoclet Collection now in the British Museum, M&ME 1965, 6-4, 1. and my capitalCapital with the Sacrifice of Isaac, Romanesque, ca. 1150, limestone, Île-de-France, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. A.6-1968. See letters of July 24, 1929, and March 6, 1930. in London, I suspect that Brummer was not altogether ingenuous in saying what he did.

I’ll try and get a photo, of the Kevork. dish and send it to you. It really is too glorious for words. They don’t know at the Museum how much K. wants for it, but it is I think the finest Sass. silver plate I’ve ever seen.

Bless you, dearest Mildred

R. T.

 
Associated People: Adolphe Stoclet; Joseph Brummer
Associated Places: Berlin (Germany)
Associated Artworks: HC.P.1930.04.(O)