William P. Wood (1927–1996), a staunch friend and supporter of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, served as its President from 1976 to 1980. His interest in the painting of India spanned many years, greatly enriching the Indian collection through his numerous gifts and his bequest. On May 31, 1997, a gallery of Indian art is being named in honor of William P. Wood. The special opening installation displays paintings and objects given to the Museum by and in appreciation of Mr. Wood, to celebrate his life and legacy.
The twenty paintings chosen highlight the exquisite craftsmanship together with the diversity of style and subject in India's many vital painting traditions. Originally parts of illustrated manuscripts or loosely bound albums created for private delectation, the works date from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Subjects include illustrations from the great religious epics and the poetic love literature of India, historical events, portraits, and detailed depictions of court life. The paintings also display the extraordinary variety of the Indian painters' production, the lively observation of the Mughals, the bold colors and powerful compositions of Rajasthan, the potent abstraction of southern devotional images, and the delicate idealism of paintings from the northern Punjab Hills.