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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ANTON PHILIPS
With a remarkably rich and rewarding life, Dr. Anton Philips (1874-1951) has rightly earned a place in the collective memory of the Dutch people. His vigour and entrepreneurial spirit transformed a family owned light-bulb-producing company into a global business, providing employment for tens of thousands of people throughout Holland and abroad. It was with the same passion and energy that he built one of the finest private collections of art ever to appear in Holland. It is both a pleasure and a privilege for Christie's to present to a world wide public property from the Collection of Anton Philips, entrepreneur and connoisseur in the best sense.
Anton Philips entered the art world at a young age. He rapidly became known as a regular at auctions, galleries and museums around the world. By the 1930s Anton Philips had assembled one of the most important private collections in the Netherlands. Philips foremost passion was Old Master paintings, but the exhibition catalogue of Van Eenige schilderijen en kunstvoorwerpen uit de Collectie van den Heer en Mevrouw Dr. A.F. Philips-de Jongh, hosted in the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum in 1937, also lists works by 19th and 20th century artists including Anton Mauve, Jozef Israels, Jan Toorop and Vincent van Gogh. Like fellow Eindhoven entrepreneur and collector Henri van Abbe, Anton Philips also owned works by contemporary artists Jan Sluijters and Kees van Dongen. Both were among the most sought after portraitists of their time. The Philips staff presented Anton with a portrait of him by Sluijters on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in 1934, which is still in the collection of the company. (fig. 1)
During the posing for this portrait Philips and Sluijters became well acquainted. In the Groene Amsterdammer of 24 March 1934 Sluijters explains how the jubilee portrait came into being: "I wanted to show first of all the person, secondly his work. I went around exploring the factories, the private offices and the manufacturing site (..). The background, as seen through the large window, was composed of various parts of the factory. I created a visionary image as a final impression of my tour. Philips came to Amsterdam several times to pose and in between his visits I worked as much as possible using sketches, not to impose too much on my model's time". It was after one of these sessions that Sluijters painted two study portraits, now in the possession of the family of the sitter.
Havind posed for Sluijters several times, Anton Philips remained in contact with the artist through correspondence. When Philips visited Marocco in 1934, he wrote to Sluijters about this country with its beautiful light, the unspoilt ancient towns and the population including 'wonderful types' for Sluijters to paint. (M. Metze, Anton Philips 1874-1951. Ze zullen weten wie ze voor zich hebben, Amsterdam 2004, p. 273).
At one time Anton Philips also owned the beautiful 'Odaliske' from 1930 (D. Colen, J. de Raad, Jan Sluijters. Schilder met verve, Zwolle 1999, no. 88/72, p. 56 (ill.)), which he loaned to the Stedelijk Museum for the honorary exhibition in 1941 and later that same year for an exhibition in the Haags Gemeentemuseum, together with A portrait of a woman wearing a veil (lot 52).