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ENTREPRENEUR & CONNOISSEUR
As one of the founders of the Philips electronics company,Anton Philips (1874-1951) ranked among Europe's foremost entrepreneurs of his time. Anton was trained as a banker in Amsterdam and London but, at the age of 20, he joined his elder brother Gerard to further develop the Philips light-bulb company that had been founded in 1891 in the local town of Eindhoven. Anton took responsibility for the commercial side of the trade, thinking on a global scale from the start.After a highly successful journey to Russia in 1898, regular business trips were made to North and South America, South Africa,Australia and the Far East. His many talents led to a flourishing and rapidly growing industry and by 1933 Philips was the world's largest radio manufacturer. Along with the company the city of Eindhoven expanded at an exponential rate. Apart from housing - part of the city is still known as the 'Philips district' - and other facilities set up for employees, Anton initiated the Philips Sport Vereniging: PSV football team won the Europa Cup I in 1988. In 1939, Anton Philips took his family members who wanted to escape the coming horrors of war to the United States, where they stayed until November 1945, when they all re-united in Eindhoven. When Anton passed away in 1951, the Philips company had become one of the world's leading electronic industries with over 100,000 employees producing radios, electronic components and medical and household equipment which was used on every continent. An estimated 80,000 people paid Anton Philips a last tribute during the funeral procession in Eindhoven. Anton Philips and his wife Anna had a very keen interest in art, assembling one of the most important and diverse private collections in the Netherlands.The couple remained well informed about upcoming international auctions, and Anton regularly visited museums and art dealers in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Brussels, Germany and the United States. The 1928 inventory of their house,De Laak, drawn up by the art dealer and collector Frits Lugt, included great Dutch 17th-century masters such as Gerard ter Borch, Adriaen Brouwer, Jan van Goyen, Frans Hals, Jan Lievens,Adriaen van Ostade,Paulus Potter, Rembrandt, Jacob van Ruysdael and Jan Steen.The 19th century was represented by Hague School painters Anton Mauve, Jozef Israels, Jacob Maris and J.H. Weissenbruch and later artists like George Hendrik Breitner, Marius Bauer, Jan Toorop and Vincent van Gogh. Also displayed at their house, as well as in Anton's office, were top-quality objects in many other categories, such as the important group of Egyptian art which was partly exhibited at the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum in 1938. Following the fashion of the time, the collection also comprised pewter, bronze and brass objects in many forms, while the couple's taste in silver ranged from carefully crafted 16th-century pieces to the works of contemporary silversmith Frans Zwollo.Dutch Delftware was acquired on a large scale and in a great variety; their extensive 17th- and 18thcentury Chinese and Japanese porcelain was complemented by Han and Tang figures. Small 18th- and 19th-century gold snuff boxes highlighted 15th- and 16thcentury oak furniture as well as elegant and signed pieces from 18th-century France. A new inventory in March 1936 showed that, in a mere decade, Anton Philips had extended his collection with a good number of Old Masters, including works by Giovanni Bellini, Jean Baptiste Greuze, Hans Holbein,Corneille de Lyon,Andrea Solario and Flemish masters such as Pieter Breughel, Pieter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck. Housed in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum from 1939 to 1945, these works and the greater part of Anton's collection returned in good order to Eindhoven after the war. When the Philips company had sold one million radios, Anton Philips proudly posed with a model '630', the office wall behind him suitably decorated with two Rembrandt etchings, of which the One Hundred Guilder Print is being offered in the Amsterdam sale. It is precisely this image, of a successful entrepreneur with both a heart and a discerning eye for art, that binds together the upcoming sales in Amsterdam,New York and London.The owners trust that these may find their way to a new generation of entrepreneurs and connoisseurs.