Sunday, March 12, 2017

Economics in the Garden - A few 1600s portraits of women with status symbol tulips...

Gilbert Jackson [English Baroque Era Painter, active 1621-1642] A Lady of the Grenville Family with Tulips in her Hair and her Son

Tulip mania or tulipomania was a brief period, beginning about 1620 & climaxing 1636-1637, in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of recently introduced tulips reached extraordinarily high levels & then suddenly collapsed.

 Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) Lady Jane Goodwin

Tulips became luxury goods for wealthy Dutch families. These bulbs, originally imported from Ottoman Turkey, became an important commodity. 

Gilbert Jackson [English Baroque Era Painter, active 1621-1642] Portrait of a Lady with a Lace Collar Holding a Tulip

The bulbs not only became a required addition to the elaborate Dutch formal gardens of the period, but also became the subject of intense botanical experiments attempting to create new varieties. The new & rare were prized. 

 Christine de Bade-Durlach (1645-1705), ├ępouse en 1665 Albert II de Brandebourg-Ansbach

At the peak of tulip mania, in March 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10x the annual income of a skilled craftsman. This economic phase & collapse is generally considered the one of 1st recorded speculative economic bubbles.