Holland – Flower Mania in Frans Hals Museum Haarlem

Boeket tulpen - Frans Hals MuseumWorth a visit is the city of Haarlem, the flower capital of the Netherlands.

Explore Haarlem’s historical city centre with narrow streets, scenic waterways, beautiful mediëval houses, historical sites, museums and other places of interest.

From 20 March – 17 May 2015, The Frans Hals Museum hosts a beautiful exhibition: Flower Mania.

This presentation takes you by flowers in paintings, on furniture, stained glass and tiles, and modern and traditional vases with fresh flower bouquets. According to me the splendid flower arrangements are the ‘finishing touch’ of the exhibition.

Visitors can also see an authentic Tulip Book with work by the famous painter Judith Leyster. A number of paintings and prints tell the story of the seventeenth-century outbreak of tulip mania—the incredible speculation in tulip bulbs, when a bulb was literally worth its weight in gold.

Tulip introduced by Carolus Clusius

The tulip we know today originally comes from Turkey. At the end of the 16th century the tulip was introduced by Carolus Clusius (1526-1609) to the Netherlands and into the Hortus botanicus Leiden. Clusius was a famous biologist from Vienna. He had many international contacts and that’s how he received bulbs from Turkey from his friend Ogier Ghiselain de Busbecq, the ambassador of Constantinople (now Instanbul). He had seen the beautiful flower, called tulip after the Turkish word for turban.

Tulip Mania

The tulip became rapidly immensly popular and the first tulips appeared in the ornamental gardens of wealthy citizens. Around 1635 the tulip trade skyrocketed: there was an outbreak of veritable madness – tulip mania. Speculation by rich and poor alike was rife; ludicrously high prices were paid for a single tulip bulb. Some examples could cost more than an Amsterdam house at his time.

The crash came in 1637 – the trade in tulip bulbs collapsed. Prices went down, and everyone tried to sell their bulbs as quickly as they could. Many speculators lost their fortunes and were left with debts. This tulip mania was ridiculed in paintings and in prints. The tulip crash made the government introduce special trading restrictions for the flower. It is said that the flower became so popular because of the bright colours, dramatic flames and frilly petals.

Flamed tulips

In the 20th century it was discovered that the frilly petals and dramatic flames that gave the flower its stunning look, infact were the symptoms of an infection by the mosaic virus. The healthy flowers were supposed to be solid, smooth and monotone. The virus came to the tulip from a louse living on peaches and potatoes. These diseased varieties are no longer sold, what you can find is hybrids that look similar but are genetically stable.

FLOWERMANIA, 20 March – 17 May 2015 – Frans Hals Museum, Groot Heiligland 62, 2011 ES Haarlem

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