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As the Museum’s Henry P. McIlhenny Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture for over fifteen years, Dean Walker (1948–2005) transformed the Museum’s European collections and galleries through his sensitive connoisseurship, impeccable research, and elegant persona. Throughout his career, Dr. Walker was fascinated with the creative process and with the types of objects that bring viewers into direct contact with the hands—and minds—of artists. To explore and live with evidence of artistic practice, he gradually acquired for himself a number of sketches and preparatory drawings from India.
The collection he leaves to the public, exhibited here for the first time, includes twenty-six works on paper dating from the fifteenth century into the early twentieth that, as a group, demonstrate the stages of creating “miniature” paintings in a range of Indian workshops. With their visible revisions of composition, idiosyncrasies of hand, color notations, didactic exercises, and much more, these works bring us far closer to the thought process of the artists than is possible solely through finished paintings. Also included are four three-dimensional works of art representing the four corners of the Indian Subcontinent. Dean Walker’s generous bequest makes it possible to share his own fascination with the creative process in every culture and age. The Museum presents Lines of Thought: Indian Drawings from the Dean Walker Collection as a special tribute to him.