Watercolour of a purple tulip by “The Tulip Painter“, created in the early 18th century. Size (paper): approx. 25 x 10 cm.
As the flowering time of tulips in the spring was only a few weeks, tulip bulb merchants from the late 16th century onwards, had drawings made of the bulbs they had for sale.
The paper of these watercolours is dated around 1700. Few tulip painters existed at the beginning of the 18th century. It remains uncertain who “The Tulip Painter” was, but there is a good chance that these tulips were made by Maria Sybilla Merian (1647 – 1717).
After staying in Surinam for two years to study and record the tropical insects, she returned to Amsterdam in 1701 and had to support herself. She opened a shop in 1705, but in the meantime she could have supported herself by painting tulips like these. They were intended for an art book, a kind of catalogue in which a numerous existing varieties of tulips were shown.
When painting, she was probably assisted by students (as was often the case), perhaps her daughter(s). The petals are painted by the master, the leaves on the stem are of a slightly less skillful hand.
Watercolours from the same series were attributed to Anthony Claesz (1592 – c. 1635) by Dr. Sam Segal.
- Frans Willemse, “Het Mysterie van de Tulpenschilder” (2004)
- Sam Segal, “Tulips by Anthony Claesz” (1987)