Wednesday, 28 December 2011

How I  met Peggy Guggenheim

En route recently to Corfu, I stopped over in Venice, Italy for two days and was vividly reminded of the first time I met Peggy Guggenheim

Marguerite 'Peggy' Guggenheim was born in 1898 to a wealthy, New York City family. 

She was the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, who went down with the Titanic in 1912 and the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who would later establish the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

I met her, many years later, in Venice where, after a lifetime of collecting modern art, she had finally settled - in the unfinished Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal

The occasion was a party given in 1972 by Peggy for friends, many of whom were artists. I was, at that time, teaching drama in Venice 

She began by serving pink Champage on the terrace (shown above) overlooking the Grand Canal. We then moved into the large dining room where several extremely good looking young men served dinner

The salad was served on large ceramic plates hand-painted by Picasso!

Peggy was never a particularly beautiful woman and by 1972 drank far to much but she was a delightful hostess and the conversation round the table that night sparkled

 One of my favourite artists of all time is Max Ernst, to whom Peggy had been married briefly; they divorced in 1947

Imagine my delight when I saw that I was seated beneth an iconic painting by Max Ernst - the majestic The Robing of the Bride

That painting is still there but gone is all the bric-a-brac, books, furniture and statues that made Peggy's house the living home of an obsessive yet discerning collector of modern art

Today the Peggy Guggenheim Museum - one of the best private collections in Europe -  has spread from the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni to adjacent property

The art works are (mostly) still there but the magic of that time when Peggy herself ruled over her unique collection is long gone

At least I still have the memory of that enchanting evening forty years ago!

If you would like to know more about the Collection, click on the link below:

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