Peggy Guggenheim: Modern Art Masterpieces Return To Petersfield

Peggy Guggenheim

This summer, Petersfield is hosting some of the most significant works from one of the 20th century’s most esteemed modern art collectors, marking the return of a famous name to Hampshire. Although the name Guggenheim is often associated with cities like New York, Bilbao, and Venice, the renowned arts patron Peggy Guggenheim also has ties to the historic market town of Petersfield, where she lived for five years just before the Second World War.

Peggy Guggenheim

Fifteen works and archival material from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and pieces from other UK collections will be showcased in the recently renovated galleries of Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery. This exhibition will display a range of modern paintings, drawings, and sculptures that Guggenheim once owned by artists she collected or exhibited. Supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, this initiative enables smaller museums to borrow works from national collections.

The exhibition, titled “Peggy Guggenheim: Petersfield to Palazzo,” features artists such as Henry Moore, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Jean Arp, and John Tunnard, alongside fashion and photographs, including those by Lee Miller. Visitors will gain an extraordinary insight into Guggenheim’s life, her interactions with literary, artistic, and intellectual figures, and the untold story of her time in Petersfield and neighbouring West Sussex.

Guggenheim’s journey into the art world began after inheriting her share of the family fortune following her father’s death on the Titanic in 1912. She worked as a clerk in a New York bookshop before travelling through Europe, where she mingled with Parisian bohemians and sat for artists like Man Ray. Eventually, she settled in Hampshire, buying Yew Tree Cottage, drawn partly by a love affair with publisher Douglas Garman. During these “domestic years,” as she described them, her children attended local schools, prompting her search for a new purpose as an art patron and collector.

In 1938, Guggenheim opened the art gallery Guggenheim Jeune in London, significantly influencing mid-20th-century art. Political concerns during the Second World War meant that the gallery’s works were temporarily housed at Yew Tree Cottage. Although the war halted plans for a modern art museum in London, her vision was eventually realised in New York. Later, she returned to Venice, where she made Palazzo Venier dei Leoni her home and frequently opened it to the public until she died in 1979.

Peggy Guggenheim Venice

The exhibition at Petersfield will feature diverse works from Guggenheim’s collection, including pieces by her close friends and lovers. Yves Tanguy, who occasionally stayed at Yew Tree Cottage, is represented by two untitled works. Jean Arp’s “Sculpture to be Lost in the Forest (1932) and Henry Moore’s small-scale “Reclining Figure (1935, cast 1946) are also featured. Additionally, the exhibition will showcase works by women artists like Rita Kernn-Larsen, highlighting Guggenheim’s role in addressing the gender imbalance in Surrealist exhibitions.

Peggy Guggenheim’s personal life is deeply entwined with her collection. Max Ernst, who became her second husband, is represented by works like “Zoomorphic Couple (1933). The exhibition also includes pieces by Roland Penrose, another of Guggenheim’s lovers, and British artists like John Tunnard, whose work “Pi, Spring (1941) reflects his unique style influenced by jazz.

This exhibition offers a new chapter in the remarkable life of Peggy Guggenheim, whose passion for art created one of the finest collections of modern art, ensuring her legacy continues to inspire.

Louise Weller, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery, stated, “This exhibition is a unique opportunity to bring home a local story about the fascinating woman, Peggy Guggenheim, who defied the conventions of her time and created a modern art collection and museum that captured the spirit of the 20th century. I am immensely proud that as an organisation, with the support of our local community, we can present this compelling exhibition and, for the first time, showcase works by European and British modern artists in our newly renovated galleries.”

The exhibition features artworks from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, as well as loans from Tate, The Hepworth Wakefield, Farleys House & Gallery, National Trust, and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.

Sophia Weston, Deputy Chair of the Garfield Weston Foundation, remarked, “The Weston Loan Programme empowers regional organisations to bring outstanding art to local audiences. This exhibition in Petersfield, which tells the story of the area’s connection to one of the 20th century’s most celebrated art collectors, is a wonderful example of the kind of ambitious project we created the programme to support.”

Read More



, ,