Duncan Phillips


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(b Pittsburgh, 26 June 1886; d Washington, DC, 9 May 1966).

American collector and writer on art. His family had made a fortune in steel and glass and he devoted much of his substantial inheritance to collecting. Mainly he bought the work of late 19th- and 20th-century artists, and when he opened his Washington home to the public (three afternoons a week) in 1921 it represented the first permanent museum of modern art in the USA. It proved so popular that Phillips made the house over completely as a gallery and moved to another home. Although there have subsequently been several extensions (the most recent opened in 2006), the Phillips Collection retains its intimate, domestic air, and is widely regarded as one of the world's finest small museums. Its star exhibit is Renoir's celebrated Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880–1). As a writer on art Phillips is best known for his book The Leadership of Giorgione (1937). He also edited a short-lived periodical, Art and Understanding (1929).

Subjects: Art.

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