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Franz von Lenbach

/Works and biography

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Peggy Guggenheim, ca. 1903
Oil on board, 128.9 x 92.7 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Venice
Purchase 98.5247


We know of Benjamin Guggenheim, Peggy’s father, that he liked to travel in Europe. At some time in the early 1900s he took Peggy and her older sister Benita to Munich to have their portraits made. Peggy refers to this, and a second portrait of herself with Benita, in her autobiography: “Lenbach painted me in a Vandyke costume and, for some strange reason, gave me brown eyes instead of green, and red hair instead of chestnut.” Fred Licht, a friend of Peggy’s in her later years, offered a possible explanation for this: that Lenbach was among the first portraitists to make use of photography as an aide-memoir, and based his portraits of Benjamin Guggenheim’s daughters, presumably carried out after his impatient sitters had left Munich, on daguerrotypes. Peggy confessed that she had had the date on the other, double portrait removed in the early 1950s (with the help of another friend, the artist Peter Ruta). We can only guess therefore that this was painted not long before Lenbach’s death (1904) at a time when Peggy, born 26 August 1898, was four or five years old.

credits: Hangar Design Group