Sir Claude Phillips was a barrister, journalist and art critic. He was the second son of Robert Abraham Phillips, a court jeweller, and Helen Phillips, née Levy, the daughter of Moses Lionel Levy and sister of Joseph Moses Levy, the founder of the Daily Telegraph. He remained unmarried.
Phillips was educated in France and Germany, and at London University. He entered the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in 1883. He travelled extensively throughout Europe, visiting galleries, churches and private collections. In the late 1880s he began contributing articles, first on music and then on art, to the Daily Telegraph. In 1897 he was appointed art-critic to the paper. In the same year he was appointed Keeper of the Wallace Collection.
Phillips' publications include Sir Joshua Reynolds (1894) and five Portfolio monographs: Frederick Walker (1894), Antoine Watteau (1895), The Picture Gallery of Charles I (1896), The Early Work of Titian (1897), and The Later Work of Titian (1898). Whistler, who famously scorned art critics, did not hold a high opinion of Phillips' work (#08265). However, he was generally very well thought of and was knighted in 1911. He left some of his pictures and a financial bequest to the National Gallery.
MacColl, D. S., 'Phillips, Sir Claude 1846-1924', 1937, Dictionary of National Biography Online, Oxford University Press, 1997 (accessed 19 November 2003).