The artist painted this photorealistic still life, centuries before artificial lighting could illuminate a scene like this. His masterful painting technique gives the flower-heads a luminous quality, and the dark vase also gleams where the light hits it. The artist often painted flowers so rare, like those shown here, that they could have only been seen in illustrated books. It’s notable that this painting featuring tulips was made around the time tulip mania — generally considered the first recorded economic bubble — was sweeping the Dutch Republic. During this period, tulip bulb prices reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed.