Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a museum on the Grand Canal in Venice, owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and housed in the 17th century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, world-renowned for its collection of European and American modern art.
From 1949 to her death in 1979, the building was the residence of famous art collector and patroness Peggy Guggenheim. Since 1951 the palace and the collection are open to the public.
Marguerite “Peggy” Guggenheim (1898 – 1979) was one of the three daughters of American businessmen Benjamin Guggenheim, who tragically died in 1912 in the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Born and grown up in New York, at 23 she moved to Paris, where she became close friend of many of the most important artists of the time, before returning to her hometown shortly after the occupation of France by the German army. In New York, Peggy opened her contemporary art gallery, Art of This Century, fostering and promoting the work of many, then emerging, American and European leading figures of 20th century art.
In 1947, Peggy moved again to Europe and bought Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice to transform it into her residence and into a venue to display her collection, together with the work of her favourite artists. She lived in the palace for over 30 years, Peggy Guggenheim died in Venice on December 23,1979.
Peggy Guggenheim with her dogs on the terrace of the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, 1950, photo by David Seymour.
Peggy’s and her beloved dogs’ graves in the garden of the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, photo by Rob Lee
Palazzo Venier dei Leoni
The palace was built in the 18th century by the noble family Venier in the Dorsoduro neighborhood of Venice, after a design by Venetian architect Lorenzo Boschetti. The origin of the palace’s name (Leoni means Lions in Italian) is not clear, it was probably because of the presence of some lion sculptures decorating the building, even if a legend states that it was due to the family keeping a live lion in the garden (which, honestly, sounds a bit apocryphal). Originally, the palace had to be much larger and imposing than the one we see today, but was never completed, probably due to insufficient funding.
Panoramic view of Venice’s Gran Canal from the Guggenheim; photo by Romain Moisescot
The Peggy Guggenheim art collection
The permanent collection is composed of major artworks by some of the most important exponents of Cubism, Futurism, European Abstractionism, Metaphysical Painting, Surrealism, and American Abstract Expressionism, including Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Georges Braque, Constantin Brancusi, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, and Henry Moore, just to name a few.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the dining room
Along with pieces from its collection, the museum also presents works on long-term loan from other private and public art institutions.
Furthermore, what contributes to make the Peggy Guggenheim Collection an exceptional and unorthodox museum is, along with its fascinating location, its unique atmosphere.
Indeed, the visitor can fully perceive the peculiar character of a place where great art is on show but that for Peggy Guggenheim was above all home, and in which peaceful garden she wanted to be buried together with her beloved dogs.
The museum, which also hosts temporary exhibitions and special events. includes two shops, a library (open to the public by appointment), and a magnificent garden enriched by remarkable pieces of art, the Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Sculpture Garden, that can be considered an open-air museum in itself.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Levi garden
Photos by Andrea Sarti / CAST1466, © Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
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