At the Phillips Collection dinner for its new corporate sponsors last week Washington zoning attorney Bob Linowes lit a cigar. The smoke drifted, swirled, caressed a Daumier, "The Painter at His Easel" (1870). Earlier, at a reception, the crowd, drinks in hand, sailed around in front of Renoir's "The Luncheon of The Boating Party" (1881), a Goya, a Sisley, a Monet . . . A waiter in a tux squeezed past El Greco's "The Repentant Peter" (1600), his sleeve brushing it. The Phillips, which has long maintained the comfortable aura of a family home, is in form more of this as it enters a new era. It needs money for renovations and operating expenses and the Phillips family fortune will no longer do it. "Unfortunately, times change," director Laughlin Phillips told the crowd. "We're making it much more a public institution." Now, the 33 corporate sponsors will throw parties for their clients among the artworks. Works will be on the road more often. The talk is of profits, expenses. And who is to say it is for the worse at a time when the president talks about privAs for cigars, when Duncan Phillips opened his home to the public in 1921, he put ashtrays around, and they remained until the 1960s when smoking was no longer allowed during regular viewing hours. Duncan Phillips, apparently like Bob Linowes, thought one might not be able properly to contemplate a work of art without the soothing company of a good smoke.