Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Four Tulips: Boter man (Butter Man), Joncker (Nobleman), Grote geplumaceerde (The Great Plumed One), and Voorwint (With the Wind)

Jacob Marrel (German, Frankenthal 1613/14–1681 Frankfurt am Main)
17th century
ca. 1635–45
watercolor on vellum
sheet (c.): 13 3/8 x 17 11/16 in. (34 x 44.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1968
Accession Number:
Not on view
This watercolor on vellum is a remarkable document of a fascinating moment in botanical and economic history, involving a venerated flower and its trade on the stock market. It depicts four different tulip cultivars, each clearly named (Boter man, Joncker, Grote geplumaceerde, Voorwint) and beautifully rendered to record the prized bloom. The sheet comes out of one of several watercolor albums or Tulpenboeken made by the Dutch still-life painter, print- and tulip dealer Jakob Marrel (1613–1681). Married to the widow of the German engraver Matthäus Merian, Marrel was stepfather and teacher of the well-known botanist-artist Maria Sibylla Merian. In addition to flower paintings, Marrel created at least six tulip books, three of which remain intact. Executed while he worked in Utrecht during the late 1630s and early 1640s, his tulip books coincide with the period when the Dutch developed a true passion for the tulip. Known as Tulipomania, the rage for this flower, especially in its variegated or multistriped form, resulted in wild speculation, ending in 1637 with the crash of the bulb commodity market. Still considered Holland's "national flower," the tulip actually was imported in the 1580s from Turkey, where it had been cultivated by the Ottomans from the beginning of the sixteenth century onward. It was the famous, widely traveled Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius (1526–1609), who, as supervisor of the Leiden Botanical Garden, was instrumental in furthering the introduction of the tulip and other exotic bulbs from West Asia, laying the foundation for Holland's modern-day global bulb industry.
Inscription: Left to right in pen and brown ink the names of the four species: Boter man (Butter Man) Joncker (Nobelman) Grote geplumaceerde (The Great Plumed One) Voorwint (With the Wind)
Upper left corner in pen and brown ink: WV 23
Upper right corner in pen and brown ink: N24
Otto Wertheimer
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Dutch Drawings of the Seventeenth Century in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 10, 1985–June 9, 1985.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," May 3, 1999–July 25, 1999.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 28, 2003–July 27, 2003.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," September 17, 2007–January 6, 2008.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Dürer and Beyond: Early Central European Drawings in New York Collections," April 3, 2012–September 3, 2012.

Jacob Bean, John J. McKendry "A Fortunate Year." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.s. vol. 27, no. 6, New York, February 1969, fig. no. Cover ill., p. 316., ill.

J. T. Butler "The American way with art." in Connoisseur. vol. 72, 1969, fig. no. p.64, p. 62, ill.

A. Hyatt Mayor The engagement calendar for 1971. Flowers for all seasons. 1971, ill.

Ingvar Bergström "Jacob Marrel's Earliest Tulip Book -- Hitherto Unknown." in Tableau. vol. 7, no. 2, November 1984, footnote 34, pp. 40, 46.

Madeline Pinault Le Peintre et l'histoire naturelle. 1990, fig. no. p.149, pp. 146-147, ill.

Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide "Tulips in Dutch seventeenth century decorative arts." in The Magazine Antiques. April 1991, fig. no. pl.1, pp. 740-741, ill.

William W. Robinson Seventeenth Century Dutch Drawings, A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection. Exh. cat. 1991, briefly mentioned under no.99, p. 216.

Michiel C. Plomp The Dutch Drawings in the Teyler Museum; Volume II: Artists born between 1575 and 1630. Haarlem / Ghent / Doornspijk, 1997, cat. no. 252, p. 234.

Stijn Alsteens, Freyda Spira Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1400-1700 Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012, cat. 90 (entry written by Stijn Alsteens); p. x, xiv (introduction written by Stijn Alsteens), ill.

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