For my second style icon post (our first style icon was Georgia O’Keeffe), I thought we’d take a look at wealthy American art collector Peggy Guggenheim (August 26, 1898–December 23, 1979). (Her uncle, Solomon R. Guggenheim, established the Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation and museum.) Peggy grew up ensconced in New York City luxury, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing (literally). Her father sailed on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in 1912. When the ship hit an iceberg, he helped women and children into lifeboats, and although he was entitled to a spot as a first-class passenger, he declined a place for himself and went down with the ship. Fourteen-year-old Peggy had adored her father and was devastated by his death. After her father’s death, the family’s wealth declined dramatically due to the unpaid debts he had accrued, but when Peggy was 21, she inherited $2.5 million (the equivalent of about $32 million today).
Images above top, clockwise from left: Peggy Guggenheim photographed by Man Ray, 1924; Peggy on the roof of her Venetian Palazzo with her beloved Lhasa Apso dogs; Peggy with a Calder mobile; and again, on the roof of her Venetian Palazzo, sunbathing
Image above: 1. 25th Floor Egyptian Nugget Earring, $34; 2. Canvas Beach Chairs, $150; 3. Circle Mobile, $37.95; 4. Copper Sauce Pan, $229 (In the ’20s, Peggy’s signature dish was a chocolate mole sauce that she served with chicken. David Lebovitz has a recipe here.); 5. Peggy Guggenheim Sunglasses, $250; 6. YSL Venetian Rose Lipstick, $32; 7. Dog Bed, $179.99
More of style icon Peggy Guggenheim after the jump . . .
Images above top, clockwise from left: Peggy on the steps of the Greek Pavilion, 1948; Peggy in her personal gondola; earrings made for Peggy by Surrealist painter Yves Tanguy; Peggy on her sofa in Venice, Peggy Guggenheim and Jackson Pollock
After receiving her inheritance, she moved to Paris, but she loved to travel and moved around quite a bit (partially due to World War II and partially due to her wanderlust) until finally settling in Venice in 1947. Peggy played a major role in supporting and advocating for modern and Surrealist artists. She gave money to New York photographer Berenice Abbott so she could buy her first camera and then commissioned Berenice to photograph her naked and pregnant. She supported the American painter Jackson Pollock, purchased paintings by Dali, Klee and Miro, purchased work by Alexander Calder and supported writers like Djuna Barnes. (She was also married to or had affairs with many of these artists, including Max Ernst and Samuel Beckett). Peggy lived in Venice until her death in 1979. Her home is now the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and is one of the most important modern art museums in Italy today.
If you’d like to know more about Peggy, you can read Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim or Peggy Guggenheim: A Collector’s Album, which has great photos.
*For all her contributions to the art world, Peggy could be quite a difficult person. She reportedly told her daughter, Pegeen, “I’d rather have a Picasso than a daughter.” (Pegeen succeeded in killing herself in 1967.)
Image above: 1. Beaded Necklace, $28.99; 2. Striped Shorts, $68; 3. Summer Straw Hat, $34.50; 4. Banda Chaise, $398; 5. Planter, $24; 6. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, $13.92; 7. Horse Pillow, $70; 8. Murano Speckled Tumbler, $28