|European Watercolors — Pieter (II) Holsteyn - Twelve Tulip Studies from the Munart Atocat’s Tulip Book|
|Pieter (II) Holsteyn - Twelve Tulip Studies from the Munart Atocat’s Tulip Book
Medium: Gouache on paper heightened with gum arabic
Dimensions: Paper size: 14 5/8 x 10 1/8 inches; Framed size: 25 x 20 3/8 inches
The market for still-life painting in Holland during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries grew to the point where even moderate sized towns often supported a small colony of artists. The specialization was not only one of style, but subject matter as well.
Pieter Holsteyn the Younger, pupil of his father, practiced his art in his native Haarlem as well as at Zwolle and Munster. He painted in many medium on canvas, glass and vellum, and was also known for his engraved portraits. This versatility and precision served him well in the painting of flowers, a subject of passionate interest during the period known as the Tulipomania.
The tulip was introduced to Europe in 1552 by Charles Lecluse who bought seeds from Otto de Busbecq, the Austrian Ambassador to Turkey. The bulbs were started in Leyden, center of cultivation, and speculation drove the market for them with traders and wealthy collectors paying thousands of dollars for exotic specimens, especially the “broken” tulips with unusual markings. Even after the speculators’ market crashed in the late 1630s, these bulbs were still expensive and widely cultivated.
The “broken” tulip bloom is the kind that Holsteyn portrays so vividly in this watercolor, originally from a so-called “Tulip Book” and one of twelve watercolors currently available. The albums were made for several reasons. Some were commissioned by wealthy gardeners, simply to record their treasures. Others were needed by commercial growers for their catalogues. There was also a demand by print publishers, who had a ready market for botanical prints. Finally, these portraits were often desired by other artists. The Dutch were famous for paintings of bouquets, which they embellished with rare and out-of-season flowers. Ambrosius Bosschaert for example, bequeathed his watercolors of flowers to his sons, to be used in their own paintings.
This particular work, and the eleven others that accompany it, is from a tulip album owned by the Dutch Member of Parliament, Munart Atocat.
PROVENANCE: Collection of Munart Atocat