Our Collection

William Perrin (1935)

Facsimile, Pencil on paper, 535mm x 424mm
Portrait of William Perren

The sitter was a mountain guide in Zermatt, in whose company Spencer’s patron Sir Edward Beddington-Behrens spent many holidays, walking and climbing in summer, and skiing in winter. Perren also owned small parcels of land high in the mountains on which he kept cows, or grew hay and oats. The milk had to be carried down the mountainside in cans strapped to the backs of Perren, his wife or children. The crops were moved in huge baskets. Possibly because of the dangers inherent in the mountains, Perren was deeply religious and attended church each morning and evening. He served in an Alpine regiment during the Second World War. Beddington-Behrens described him thus: ‘He is tall, with a finely-hewn face, deeply-lined by the sun and cold of the mountains. He has a thick mass of jet-black hair…and a gentle look in his dark, heavy-lidded eyes. He loves and venerates the mountains.’ Through Beddington-Behrens, Perren also met Oskar Kokoschka, whose easel he helped to carry to selected spots in the mountains. Perren was not a materialist, and unlike many other guides in Zermatt, did not prosper by opening a shop or hotel to cater for the increasing number of tourists to the village.