Augustus John

/Works and biography


Portrait of Wyn Henderson, n.d.
Double-sided ink drawing on Eiffel Tower Hotel stationary
verso, 24.8 x 19.1 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Venice
Purchase 2006.4

Wyn Henderson became acquainted with Peggy Guggenheim in the early 1930s. She remained one of her most faithful companions up until the beginning of the World War II. Peggy turned to Henderson, flamboyant and red-headed, and a typographer by profession, to be secretary for her gallery in Cork Street which opened in 1938. Henderson coined the title of the Gallery, ‘Guggenheim Jeune’, and designed the logo and letterhead used on Peggy’s early catalogues and stationery.

Well-connected in London, Henderson had much input in the early shows at Guggenheim Jeune, which in 1938 included an exhibition of a series of early caricatures by her friend Cedric Morris. A selection of sculptures that Peggy imported for the subsequent show at Guggenheim Jeune included works by Constantin Brancusi, Henri Laurens, Antoine Pevsner and others. James B. Manson, then director of the Tate Gallery declined to certify these as works of art. Thus they were subject to tax duty on entering the UK. It was Wyn Henderson who rallied eminent art historians and critics of the time, including Herbert Read and Clive Bell, to sign a petition against Manson’s decision, which resulted in it being overturned. In this way she played a role in the recognition of modern sculpture in London.

This double-sided sketch by John of Wyn Henderson is an intimate vignette of one of Peggy’s confidantes of the pre-war years.

credits: Hangar Design Group