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Exquisitely Indian

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The Perfect Pour

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Sohm looks at the color and how fine the mousse is — the fine streams of bubbles — a sign of great quality.

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Tonga Room, San Francisco.

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From his twenty-third-floor apartment aerie atop Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square, Alvin O. Bellak has long been renowned as possessor of one of the world's finest collections of Indian miniature paintings. From March 2 to April 29, for the first time, these treasures will be on public view together in a much-anticipated exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Intimate Worlds: Masterpieces of Indian Painting from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection boasts more than 90 paintings and drawings, the best of which boldly combine glowing mineral and vegetable colors with a staggering fineness of line. The collection's sensibility ranges from the fiery drama of Rustam Kills a Demon, a ca. 1575 watercolor and gold on paper attributed to the Moghul court painter Mahesa, to the princely Rao Ratan of Bundi (ca. 1680; above), one of the earliest Rajasthani equestrian portraits, attributed to the great Indian artist known simply as the "Kota Master." "I've always been attracted to strong forms and color," Bellak confesses, "but some of these pictures are quite delicate."

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