Vasanta Vilasa (a poem on Spring) (detail)

Historical period(s)
Pre-Mughal School
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper mounted on cloth
Western Indian style
H x W: 1101.5 × 24.5 cm (433 11/16 × 9 5/8 in)
India, Gujarat state
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


illumination, India, Kama, poems, spring

To 1932
N. C. Mehta, Lucknow, India to 1932 [1]

From 1932
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from N. C. Mehta, Lucknow, India in 1932 [2]


[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note.

[2] See note 1. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

N.C. Mehta


This unique scroll, over thirty-six feet long, is filled with poems and illustrations celebrating springtime, when Kama, god of love, evokes passion in the hearts of all.  In eighty-four verses, the poem employs lush verbal imagery to evoke the beauty of spring, and the paintings closely follow the text. The spirited poses and angular lines of the body, the pert faces with the stylized projecting eye, and the brilliant colors of the paintings are typical of Western Indian painting in the pre-Mughal period.

Published References
  • O. C. Gangoly. Vasanta Vilasa: A New Document. vol. 2, new ed. Berlin. .
  • Kapila Vatsyayan. Dance in Indian Painting. New Delhi. pl. 11, fig. 84.
  • N.C. Mehta. Gujarati Painting in the 15th Century: A Further Essay on Vasanta Vilasa. London. .
  • Dr. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. History of Indian and Indonesian Art. New York and London. pl. 81, fig. 257.
  • W. Norman Brown. The Vasanta Vilasa: A Poem of the Spring Festival of Old Gujarati. American Oriental Series, vol. 46 New Haven. .
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Exh. cat. Washington, 1981. cat. 1, pp. 13-14, 34,42.
  • N.C. Mehta. Studies in Indian Painting: A Survey of Some New Material, Ranging from the Commencement of the VIIth Century to circa 1870 A.D. Bombay. p. 15 ff, pls. 6-7.
  • Sherman Lee. A History of Far Eastern Art. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1964. pp. 24-27, figs. 9-10.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 3, pp. 46-7.
  • N.C. Mehta. Indian Painting in the 15th Century. nos. 22-23 Delhi. pp. 61ff.
  • Konrad Seitz. Origins of Orchha Painting: Orchha, Datia, Panna: Miniatures from the Royal Courts of Bundelkhand (1590–1850). 1, New Delhi, 2022. p. 82, figs. 16 and 16.
  • Pratapaditya Pal. "Collecting Old Art in Modern India circa 1875-1950." In Pursuit of the Past. India. p. 151, fig. 9.15.
  • Ratan Parimoo. Gujarati School and Jaina Manuscript Paintings: N.C. Mehta Collection. India. pp. 176-203.
  • W. Norman Brown. The Vasanta Vilasa Manuscripts and their Interrelationships. vol. 77, no. 4, October-December 1957. pp. 257-65.
  • H. I. Poleman. A Census of Indic Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. American Oriental Series, vol. 12 New Haven. cat. 5573, p. 278.
  • B.N. Goswamy. The Spirit of Indian Painting: Close Encounters with 101 Great Works, 1100-1900. Gurgaon, Haryana, India. pp. 413-415.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.