One of the most significant botanical artists in seventeenth century Europe, Jacob Marrel, combined Dutch and German styles to produce his own uniquely vibrant images of flowers and insects. Born in France to Protestant parents, the Marrel family was forced to flee to the northern, more Protestant-friendly Germany in 1624 during a period of intense persecution. Jacob Marrel began his training in Frankfurt as an apprentice to painter Georg Flegel, then migrated to Utrecht to study with the artist Jan Davidsz. de Heem [sic]. Learning from each of these teachers gave Marrel experience in two different schools of painting–Dutch and German–and he merged the styles in his own work, quickly rising to prominence for his paintings and engravings. In 1649, his first wife died and he returned to Frankfurt, where he married Johanna Sibylla in 1651. He was an artistic mentor to her daughter, Maria Sybilla Merian, who became an influential botanical artist in her own right.

This painting depicts a “voor-wint” tulip, one of the many varieties bred in Holland during the 1600’s. Tulips were imported in the 1580’s from Turkey, where Ottoman horticulturalists had begun developing various strands in the early 1500’s. Tulips hit Holland with a whirlwind of speculation, and by 1636 and 1637–the time in which Marrel created this painting and others in the same catalogue–tulipomania had created chaos. The already high prices skyrocketed, with buyers putting money down on seeds that had yet to germinate. Speculation grew to a fever pitch, with loans and hopes of wealth flying every which-way, until the market collapsed in February of 1637. Many citizens were left in debt and tulip sellers were stuck with plants made worthless overnight. Marrel likely made the catalogue in order to show his clients, or the clients of other tulip vendors, what various flower varieties looked like during the months when the plants were not blooming.


  • Title: Painting #10 in ​Tulipomania​
  • Creator: Jacob Marrel
  • Date Created: 1634

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