Peggy Guggenheim (August 26, 1898--December 23, 1979) was one of the most iconic figures in the modern art world. Born to a wealthy New York Jewish family, Guggenheim's father, Benjamin, was one of the casualties of RMS Titanic, in 1912.
With a reasonable inheritance in tow, Guggenheim relocated to Paris, married artist Laurence Vail, but then found herself divorced with two children, all by the age of 32.
Inspired by art, Guggenheim opened her own gallery in London in 1938. But the outbreak of WWII forced her relocation back to France, where she proceeded to purchase important works of art by the likes of Constantin Brancusi and Henri Leger, for fear they'd end up with the Nazis. By the time Germany invaded Paris, she'd barely escaped, along with her children and the valuable pieces she owned.
In New York City in 1942, Guggenheim opened a gallery called The Art of This Century, featuring a series of trailblazing exhibitions, blending old-world mastery with the work of up-and-coming young artists, such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Koonig, Mark Rothko, and Ad Reinhardt. It was a monumental success and Peggy's importance as a collector and champion of the arts was cemented.
In 1947, Peggy moved to Venice where she opened her Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which is the most-visited museum in Venice to this day. She died in 1979, and her ashes were scattered there.