Dr. Alvin O. Bellak: A Transformative Gift of Indian Paintings
Dr. Alvin O. Bellak—psychologist, businessman, preeminent collector of Indian painting, and respected and beloved Trustee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art—passed away in July 2004, leaving the Museum the Alvin O. Bellak Collection of Indian Painting—eighty-eight paintings and drawings that span 400 years of India’s artistic history—to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, transforming it into one of the world’s major repositories of Indian “miniature” painting. Painted on paper with vivid, opaque watercolors, the works are often highlighted with gold and polished to a smooth, lustrous surface. Most were created in royal painting workshops, often as pages for larger illustrated manuscripts or series, and so provide a unique window into the idylls and intricacies of daily life at court. Through delicate details and lively stories, each one evokes an intimate world of enchantment and delight. When he began collecting Indian "miniature" paintings in the mid-1970s, Dr. Bellak set out to illustrate the history of the genre. Over the next twenty-five years, he succeeded in developing one of the world’s finest private collections. It was first shown in its entirety in 2001 in the acclaimed exhibition Intimate Worlds: Masterpieces of Indian Painting from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection. Dr. Bellak promised the collection as a bequest to the Museum, and his legacy has now transformed the Philadelphia Museum of Art into one of the world's major repositories of Indian painting.
Dr. Alvin O. Bellak
“ works that together teach about history and about beauty ” — Dr. Alvin O. Bellak
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