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THE ARCHAEOLOGIST AS PHILOSOPHER - CARTER AND THE MYSTERIOUS MISS IONIDES
(Howard, 1874-1939, Painter and Archaeologist, Discoverer of the Tomb of Tutankhamun)
Fine long Autograph Letter Signed to Miss
(Helen Euphrosyne, 1871-1967, Daughter of Constantine Alexander, 1833-1900, Art Patron and Collector) starting "Who would a poet understand must first visit the poet's land." and going on "To be in Athens is to realize how the unfettered life of an Ant, obeying all the laws of nature, grew, blossomed, faded and alas died. So much is it the case that one wonders whether such marvels were due to any mortal hand, or to the Gods themselves. However, they tell us that this and that was made at such and such a time, or in such and such a moment, and they even stick labels thereon. Phew! Who cares. Fancy Nature labelling her rose. Was then an art created to Bradshaw? Or was it not under suitable conditions, true environment, that the nursery well raised her child? In the harbour the wee 'Ophris' (renamed 'Turine') bubbles like a cork. With a sturdy Captain and crew of eleven we board her tomorrow and plough the waves to the isles in the sea. With every kind thought to Miss Stevens and yourself. Yours sincerely, Howard Carter. Perhaps better known as 'Kolokithi' ...", 4 sides 8vo., with original autograph envelope, Hotel de la Grande-Bretagne, Athens, 10th September
The nature of Carter's relationship with the shadowy Miss Ionides remains sadly elusive. This letter is both wistful and lyrical and reveals a different Carter to the difficult, brooding man known to the public. This is the man who was involved in an altercation with a group of French tourists in Egypt and who went to the High Court to prevent a certain Sheik Quraishi from selling Tutankhamen perfume bearing Carter's name.
One is tempted to conclude that the famously guarded archaeologist was at heart a romantic individual and that the sentiments expressed here are what motivated him to continue searching for the tomb of Tutankhamen long after being warned that it was an impossible undertaking.
Her father is best known for his bequest of 82 oil paintings to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
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