The Tulip Book of Pieter Cos from 1637 is, without a doubt, one of Special Collections’ most important treasures. Until recently, the book was on display in the exhibition The Botanical Revolution in the Central Museum in Utrecht. However, the book is on tour: it has now been installed for the exhibition In Full Bloom in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.
The Tulip Book
The Tulip Book is a nursery catalog with examples of tulips in full bloom. The beautiful drawings were made by Pieter Holsteijn the Younger and Pieter Schagen. The drawings were meant to inform buyers of the tulip bulbs about how the tulips would bloom.
The book originates from a period that is generally referred to as the time of the Dutch Tulip Mania (1634 - 1637). During this period the trade-in bulbs of the recently discovered and very fashionable tulips soared. Some bulbs were sold for prices that were comparable to the price of a modest canal house in Amsterdam (around 4.000 florins/guilders). Eventually, this speculative bubble collapsed. It is generally considered to have been the first recorded speculative bubble in history.
A special feature of the Tulip Book of Pieter Cos is that in the book the selling prices and weight of the bulbs were added to the drawings.
Special Collections also has 35 tulipomania pamphlets ridiculing the craziness of the speculative tulip trade.
In Full Bloom – Mauritshuis, The Hague
From 10 February until 6 June 2022 the Mauritshuis in The Hague organizes the exhibition In Full Bloom. The exhibition shows the most beautiful flower still lifes from the period 1600-1725. The exhibition pays particular attention to female painters active in this genre, who created a furor in flower painting and played an important role in the development of botanical science.
The Viceroy, the most expensive tulip bulb
The Installation of the Tulip Book
At the end of January, team members of the Special Collections Team travelled to The Haque to install the book at the exhibition. The book was transported to the museum by specialized art handlers.
When an object from a heritage collection, especially one of the top treasures, goes on loan to an exhibition, strict procedures are followed.
After unpacking the object, the condition of the object is meticulously checked. During this check a report is made of the current state of the object, and any signs of wear and tear are extensively documented in text and photos.
After that, a special bookstand was made by the technical exhibition staff in order to position the object safely and allow for optimum viewing.
Finally, the book was securely installed in a vitrine, shoulder to shoulder to another famous tulip book, with drawings from Judith Leyster. This book originates from the collection of the Frans Hals Museum.
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Wageningen University & Research