National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Mr Norton E. Grimwade in memory of his wife Mrs Norton E. Grimwade, 1945
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
17th & 18th Century Decorative Arts & Paintings Gallery Level 2, NGV International
Amsterdam in the Golden Age saw the rise of an industry of exceptionally skilled specialist flower painters, many of whom were women, such as Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750), to whom this flowerpiece was once attributed. The demand for such pictures was fuelled by the contemporary passion for botany and the exotic flower bulbs arriving from Levant; tulips, anemones, hyacinths and crocuses. The king of these flowers was Semper Augustus, the red and white ‘flamed’ tulip, which features prominently here. In 1636, at the height of Dutch tulip mania, a single bulb cost several years’ of an artisan’s wage. Indeed, the price of the flowers depicted in canvases such as these far exceeded the pictures themselves.