Dutch School
A study of a Tulip [Tulipa] and a Wallflower [Erysimum]

PROVENANCE: Private collection, Germany.

Watercolour, numbered No 24 verso in pen and brown ink

171 x 228 mm. (6 3/4 x 9 in.)


The artistic positioning of these two different species seems to be for affect rather than descriptive purposes. That being said the genus of each of these plants is clear. Wallflowers is a genus that includes about 180 species, and is popular both in garden plants and in wild forms. They are widely distributed throughout Europe and Asia and North America. They are used as food plants by the larvae of some butterflies and moths. Many species of beetles and bugs and grasshoppers eat the leaves and stalks. The tulip needs no significant introduction, however the connection with Holland is interesting. Tulip mania occurred during the 17th century and contract prices for the bulbs of recently introduced tulips reached extremely high levels and then collapsed. At the peak of the mania in February 1637 some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.

This charming watercolour is dateable to the 19th century and the inscription of 24 on the verso could indicate this watercolour came from an album of some sort. Occasionally drawing of plants were made to show potential purchasers the end result of bulbs, though in this instance it is more likely for artistic effect.