To celebrate the launch of the Autumn issue of Printed Pages, here’s the last of this week’s taster articles. Below you’ll find an excerpt from Maisie Skidmore’s feature on the irrepressible art-world mover and shaker Peggy Guggenheim as well as one of Alice Tye’s delightful commissions. To read the full article you can buy the latest Printed Pages here.
Type her name into Google and the results you’re faced with – “collection,” “lovers” and “Venice” – go some way to crystallising Peggy Guggenheim’s ongoing presence in public consciousness. She’s a figure bound by mythology; the poor little rich girl brought up in the midst of Manhattan’s social elite; the father who went down with The Titanic, the hundreds of lovers she supposedly entertained over her lifetime. She played up to the scandal with a leisurely audacity from the start.
In her memoir she describes her childhood as “gilt-edged,” but that barely seems to cover it; her grandfathers, a Seligman and a Guggenheim, amassed their respective fortunes from modest beginnings, creating for Peggy an affluent if unhappy childhood. Her father took mistresses while her mother took teas. He forfeit his future in the family businesses to pursue his own schemes in Paris, while she dressed her daughters in finery and paraded them among New York City’s German Jewish aristocracy. It was a stoker’s strike which led to Benjamin Guggenheim’s booking a place on the ill-fated Titanic in 1912; his initial crossing hd been cancelled. Family members arriving at the harbour hoping to find Mr Guggenheim in the lifeboats were met instead by his mistress (a French singer) and the harsh reality of huge financial losses incurred in Paris. Peggy would carry the weight of the absent, much-loved father figure for the rest of her life.