Tag Archives: Haarlem

Child Safety, Circa 1850


This charming little portrait shows a child wearing a safety device apparently common among extra-careful parents in the middle of the 19th century:  a safety helmet, made of padded wood, prettily concealed under lace ruffles.  I saw the painting at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands, as part of a special exhibit on Russian Romantic painting. This 1831 painting is by Jan Adam Kruseman.

Then as now, parents worried.  Infant mortality was beginning to improve, but childhood was still full of dangers.  Parental love for this particular child, no doubt from a very privileged background, shines through in this portrait.


Little girls today wear equally pretty helmets, for riding bikes and skateboards.

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More macho helmets are available for the well-dressed and well-protected little boy. The love and concern of parents for their children is a common denominator linking us to generations past.

Join me next time for more explorations into the art and history of Europe!

April in the Netherlands

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Considering that the tulip season runs for only about 8 weeks, and that each tulip bulb blooms for only a week at most, I can see that gardeners and florists have been busy keeping the cities and countryside beautiful.

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Gardens are in bloom everywhere.

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Museums, like the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem ,have traditional arrangements of tulips, like this one which only a very wealthy family would have enjoyed in the past. Each precious bloom has its own place in a towering Delft vase, a luxurious work of art in itself.

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Other arrangements are more modern.  All are spectacular!

Tulip Monkey Business



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I took a short train ride from Amsterdam to the nearby town of Haarlem, especially to visit the Frans Hals Museum. One of the more charming pieces I found there featured monkeys and tulips.  Frans Hals was a contemporary of Rembrandt; they competed for the same clientele of wealthy Dutch citizens during the Golden Age of Dutch painting, in the 1600s.  His namesake museum has many Hals paintings, plus work by other artists of his time.

"A Satire of Tulip Mania" by Brueghel the Younger, Public Domain

“A Satire of Tulip Mania” by Brueghel the Younger, Public Domain

“A Satire of Tulip Mania,” by Breughel the Younger, was painted in 1640, just after the debacle of the tulip boom and bust cycle.  This was the seventeenth-century equivalent of the dot-com boom and bust. It was probably the first modern instance of rampant speculation in a commodity, followed by a crash. At the height of the frenzy, a single tulip bulb sold for ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.

Brueghel dressed his gullible monkeys in contemporary clothes and showed them facing debtor’s court and even urinating on discarded tulips, turned from priceless to worthless overnight.

Today the tulip trade is much more stable.  The museum had spectacular arrangements of tulips and other spring flowers in every room.

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Join me next time for more explorations in the art and history of Europe!