From their humble origins as hardy natives of the Pamir mountains, to their exalted status as objects of desire of fierce Ottoman rulers, to their passionate possession and breeding by Dutch florists, tulips have exerted a powerful influence spanning widely diverse cultures over hundreds of years. Their captivating beauty has led to such levels of obsession that three of the right tulip bulbs could buy a large house on the finest canal in Amsterdam at the height of Tulipomania in the 1630's.
The beauty of tulips, their often heady and intoxicating fragrance, their exotic history and journey from the inhospitable central Asian mountains mountains to the modern garden, combine to create an irresistible story. The iconic image of feathered and flamed broken tulips painted with such observant appreciation by the artists of the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic, (a few broken varieties can still be had, if you know where to go), is set against the backdrop of impossible wealth, fortunes made and lost with bulbs still in the ground, and the world's first economic bubble.
The romantic, adventurous, sensuous tulip, with the silky sheen of its petals softly reflecting light, is a subject perfectly suited to art, and I am indebted to such practiced and gifted artists as Jan Breughel, Hans Bollongier, Ambrosius Bosschaert, and Rachel Ruysch, whose works captured the refined yet bold elegance of varieties such as the legendary Semper Augustus, now extinct.
This gallery is the inspiration for an upcoming book, The Tulip Book, combining art with the story of the tulip. To receive updates on this project, let me know via the contact form.