News

Travelling Tulips

Published on
February 9, 2022

The Tulip Book of Pieter Cos from 1637 is undoubtedly 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. It is currently on tour as part of the exhibition In Full Bloom in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.

In Full Bloom – Mauritshuis, The Hague

From 10 February until 6 June 2022 the Mauritshuis in The Hague is organising 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.

We are delighted that the Tulip Book of Pieter Cos from WUR Library - Special Collections is part of this exhibition.

The Viceroy, the most expensive tulip bulb
The Viceroy, the most expensive tulip bulb

The Tulip Book

The Tulip Book is a nursery catalogue with examples of tulips in full bloom. The beautiful drawings were created by Pieter Holsteijn the Younger and Pieter Schagen. The drawings informed buyers about the tulip bulbs and how the tulips bloomed.

The book was produced during Dutch Tulip Mania (1634 - 1637). At this time the recently discovered tulip becomes very fashionable and trade in tulip bulbs soared. Some bulbs were sold for prices which 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 be the first recorded speculative bubble in history. Noteworthy in the Tulip Book of Pieter Cos are the selling price and weight of each bulb listed next to the illustration.

Special Collections also has 35 tulipomania pamphlets ridiculing the craziness of the speculative tulip trade.

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 in the exhibition. The book was transported to the museum by art handlers. When an object from a heritage collection, especially one of the top treasures, is lent to an exhibition, strict procedures are followed. After an object is unpacked, its condition is meticulously checked and a report is written. Any signs of wear and tear are documented in text and photos.

After the check the book was placed on a specially made stand for optimum viewing. It was then securely installed in a display case, shoulder to shoulder with another famous tulip book illustrated by Judith Leyster. This book comes from the collection of the Frans Hals Museum.

The Tulip Book has arrived in the Mauritshuis
The Tulip Book has arrived in the Mauritshuis
Making photos of the current state of the book
Making photos of the current state of the book
Installing the book
Installing the book
Two tulip books: the book of P. Cos and the 2nd with drawings from Judith Leyster
Two tulip books: the book of P. Cos and the 2nd with drawings from Judith Leyster

More information

You can find more information about these topics on the Special Collections pages, or visit the WUR Image Collections to find more treasures from the collection.