I’m not sure if you have seen the movie "Tulip Fever," either in the theatres back in September or more recently, when it finally showed up on cable.

That the movie ever even made it to the big screen was the cause of much speculation.


Ben and I watched it on On Demand, both clueless to the turmoil that surrounded Tulip Fever.  I fell in love with it and kept saying – "I feel like I have fallen inside a Vermeer painting."  But I was wrong!   It was not a Vermeer painting.  Vermeer’s interiors are too bright - according to Tulip Fever's Production Designer, Simon Elliot.

Instead Elliot said he based the sets on other Dutch masters such as Pieter de Hooch, above...

and Gabriel Metsu, above, both whose interiors were darker and more mysterious than Vermeer’s.

But surprisingly, it was truly neither Vermeer nor Hooch nor Metsu who inspired the book and film…

It was another painting that started the journey that would end with “Tulip Fever.”

This painting  “Seated Woman With Servants,” above, painted in 1600, by a lessor Dutch artist, Job Berckheyde,  was the spark for first, the book, then the film “Tulip Fever.”

Over 20 years ago, the novelist Deborah Moggach, best known for writing “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” saw that painting "Seated Woman With Servants" in a Christie’s catalogue.  Priced at 6,000 pounds – it was out of Moggach's price range and she was sadly unable to bid on the painting.  After the auction, Deborah received an unexpected tax windfall of exactly 6,000 pounds.  She immediately rang up Christie’s to inquire about the painting.  When they informed her that the painting had not sold at auction, she immediately went and bought it.

Today that Dutch painting hangs in Deborah Moggach’s house in England, above.

Moggach became obsessed with her Dutch painting and she would sit and stare at it, trying to solve its mystery.  She determined that the scene depicts an upper class woman whose maid is bringing her a necklace while her manservant gives her a glass of wine.  To Moggach, it seemed as if the lady was hiding a secret, maybe something illicit, like an adulterous affair.


Moggach in her "Dutch" study designed by her then boyfriend

A few months later, while giving a lecture, Moggach told the audience that she wanted to write a novel where she would disappear into a Dutch painting, with their checkerboard floors and marble mantels.  Her boyfriend at the time was a young Hungarian artist named Csaba Pasztor who was also an interior designer.   He built a Dutch interior in her study – which included a Vermeer styled fireplace and paneling in the typical Low-Country manner.  Moggach would lay on the floor, surrounded by her Dutch room, lit with candles, and she would write her new book.   Her boyfriend eventually moved on.

Moggah's Dutch study designed by her then boyfriend.

The book Moggach’s was writing at that time would have a plot based on what she believed was happening in her Dutch painting – an adulterous relationship.

It was published in 1999 and was called “Tulip Fever.”

Based on her previous successes, word of this new book leaked out – even before it was on the shelves.  Steven Spielberg called Moggach from his car, wanting to make a film out of it.  And thus, the long saga of this film began.  

Spielberg’s studio DreamWorks was set to make the movie with a $48 million budget.  It was to star Jude Law, Kiera Knightley – or maybe Natalie Portman.  Sets were built and over 12,000 tulips were planted in anticipation of filming.  Then, UK closed a tax loophole and financing collapsed.  Those planted tulips went to Moggach who gave them to her friends.


Enter Harvey Weinstein – what he couldn’t possibly know at the time, was that this movie may just be his final swan song. 

His studio took over the movie, putting up just half the budget that Spielberg was going to spend.   Oscar winner Alicia Vikander and indie star Dane deHaan were to play the star crossed lovers.  Christoph Waltz was the jilted older husband.  The film was shot in 2014 – it played in Cannes in 2015 – and it was finally released in September 2017 – four weeks before Harvey Weinstein’s notorious exploits were revealed.  Weinstein will most likely never make another movie, although there are probably a few finished but not yet released.  Tulip Fever will be one of the last of a long era of Weinstein films.

An original Delft tulip vase from the 17th century

Because Tulip Fever was not released for three years after it was finished and two years after its Cannes premier, whispers started.  What was wrong with the film?  Questions were asked,  especially because Weinstein was involved - he is notorious for making unnecessary cuts in his films.   Before the delays, Tulip Fever was said to be Oscar bound.  The whispers about Tulip Fever became shouts.  By the time the movie was released last September, critics wanted a perfect movie.  If it wasn’t flawless, they were going to hate it and it would all be Weinstein’s fault.

In the end, the reviews were mixed.  Some loved the movie for the set design and costumes.  Others hated it because they hated Weinstein and wanted his reign to finally be over.  Reading the reviews now, the politics of moviemaking seems to be behind many of the negative reviews.

My review?  If you love beauty, you will adore this movie.  The costumes are visually stunning.  The sets are just as fabulous.  They are perfection - indeed you do feel as if you have stepped inside a Dutch painting from the 1600s. 

And then there are the tulips!

The movie tells the story of ill-fated love, drawing on a comparison to Tulip Mania. 

What exactly is Tulip Mania???

Tulip Mania is considered the world’s first futures market, where futures on tulip bulbs were bought and sold.  In Amsterdam during the early 1600s, people spent huge amounts on a tulip bulb, betting on the color it would be when it bloomed.  Fortunes were both made and lost when bulb speculators could no longer find any investors and the bulb market collapsed.  Called Tulip Mania, it is considered the first bubble burst, such as our recent real estate bubble or the burst.

When author Moggach was first researching 1600s Amsterdam, she stumbled upon the story of Tulip Mania and she set her story’s timeline on when the tulip futures market burst – 1637.


This tulip, was the most rare and valued tulip of them all – the Semper Augustus.

Stripped tulips are called breakers and breakers were the most expensive bulbs.   What wasn’t known then, is that this color breaking was caused by a virus in the bulb.   These striped tulips, or breakers, commanded the highest prices since it was so unpredictable which bulb would be striped.  The bidding continued in an increasing frenzy in the back rooms of loud and dark taverns. 

This Dutch painting reflected the Tulip Mania – the striped Semper Augustus tulip, the weighing of the bulbs.

During the 1630s, the Amsterdam stock exchange was open only from noon to 2pm, but tulips were not part of the official exchange.  For those who were trading in bulbs, congregating in these dark taverns at night proved to be a convenient meeting point.   At first, tulips were sold by bulb and only in the summer season, but in 1635, at the height of the fury, tulips that were still in the ground began to be traded.   The bulb became a promissory note.  Throughout that winter, bulbs were not traded – but instead, promissory notes about bulbs that might not even exist were traded.  Thus, tulips became the first futures market. 

The height of the mania lasted from December 1636 to January 1637.  By February, the panic set in when traders realized they had to sell their notes as quickly as possible.   The desperate were selling commodities they did not have, nor ever did have.  Most traders never recovered from this first ever bubble burst.    Today, Bitcoin is compared to Tulip Mania.

A screencap from the film showing the frenzied trading in the back of a tavern.  Most screencaps from the movie look like a painting, just as this one does.

The author, Moggach, used Tulip Mania as a metaphor for the ill fated love affair between Sophia Sandvoort and the artist, Jan van Loos, whom her husband Cornelis hired to paint their portrait.  Cornelis is a very wealthy man, he is the King of Peppercorns.  Since he is so wealthy he doesn’t need to risk his wealth in the bulb market.  He is more concerned with his legacy.

While the once orphaned Sophia, whom Cornelis saved from a life of poverty, can not have a child, her unmarried maid Maria does get pregnant.   The two girls hatch a convoluted plan so that Jan the artist and Sophia can live happily ever after.

The plot becomes a comedy of Shakespearean errors. 

But the plot doesn’t matter.

What does matter are the costumes, the interiors, and the tulips.

Tulip Fever is a luscious film with exquisite visuals.

Note:  One word of warning - there is some nudity, but not a lot, and there are a few scenes of lovemaking, but again not a lot.  No nudity is gratuitous though and it’s very brief.   The movie is rated R.

Just a warning in case you are bothered by it.

Now…on to the beauty!

Costume Design is by Michael O’Connor, famous for his work in Jane Eyre, The Duchess, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and many, many other titles.


The married couple, Cornelis and Sophia Sandvoort, dressed in the finery.

According to the Costume Designer O’Conner, Cornelis and Sophia are very wealthy, Protestant merchants and as thus, they would wear black with big ruffs.  The black fabric is textured silk with pink lining.  Black dye was a sign of wealth because it took a difficult three step process to make. 

The Costume Designer, Michael O’Conner won an Oscar for the movie, The Duchess, another period film.  I wonder if he will be nominated for this movie?

Alicia Vikander aka Sophia reads a letter by the window.  The reason why everyone is always standing by the windows is that the houses were all so dark.  This screencap is another beautiful painting!

When talking about making a period movie  Costume Designer O’Conner said that  everything must be manufactured – from the color of the thread to the size of the buttonholes, hooks, and bars.  You have to feel the weight of fabrics to be sure they will properly drape.  Historical movies are more time consuming and expensive – in a modern film, everything can just be bought in a shop.

Cornelis, King of the Peppercorns

The most eye catching fashion accessory of the time was the ruff, the linen collar used to help keep the shirt or coat clean.  The removable ruff would be washed, ironed and starched – a hidden wire support would allow the ruff to be extended to outrageous widths, as much as a foot or more!  These types of ruffs came in vogue when starch was discovered which allowed the collars to keep their striking shapes.  The pleats were formed by a heated cone-shaped goffering iron.   The ruff was a symbol of the wearer’s wealth, the bigger the ruff, the wealthier they were.  

Here is an actual goffering iron used to pleat the ruffs.

Here Cornelis and Sophia talk with the young artist Jan von Loos.  Jan’s outfit denotes his status in life while the couple wear their attention getting ruffs and expensive clothes.   Cornelis wears his trendy large hat with a white feather.

Later when Jan is older and wealthier, his clothes will reflect those changes. 

As ruffs went out of fashion, flat collars became popular.  Here you can see Sophia’s matching cuffs and flat collar.   While the ruffs were abandoned in much of Europe, they stayed in fashion decades longer in Spain and the Netherlands. 

Clergy in Denmark still wear ruffs today, while clergy in Norway stopped using them as late as 1980.

Maria the maid, with her fancier clothes that reflect her changed status in life.  Notice the velvet sleeves with trim the goes from wrist to shoulder.  Also notice the embroidered vest.  Beautiful!

Here in the blue dining room – Sophia wears a fancy dress with cuffs and a sewn on apron.  Sitting in the chair is the comical Dr. Sorgh.

While there are serious moments in Tulip Fever, there are many funny moments too.

Here in Jan’s studio,  Sophia pays a visit in what appears to be a plain dress – until you see the back of it. 

A series of large bow ties holds the bodice together.  This dress was so pretty when it was shown from the back – with the large khaki colored ties. 

Notice Jan van Loos’ chandelier. 

This costume has a trimmed vest and the sleeves are also trimmed, as Maria’s were.

This actress is Prince Harry’s former girlfriend, Cressida Bonas – the girl many thought he would marry, before Meghan Markel came into his life.

The oddest costume was the sleeveless silk Huik,or hood in English.  The Huik came from northern Africa and was worn in Belgium and the Netherlands from the 14th century on.  It was used as a cover for mostly women and was worn during mourning and inclement weather. 

Here you can see Maria wearing her Huik, but Sophia borrows it a few times.  Notice the woman behind Sophia is wearing the more traditional “duck bill” Huik.  Maria’s looks like a tea kettle!

Sophia’s dress in this scene is especially pretty.

Three styles of the Huik – including the duck bill in the middle and Maria’s on the right.

A 1610 painting showing the women in two varieties of the Huik. 

Everything you want to know about these veils – HERE.

The costume designer said he made around 50 principal character costumes, 25 nun costumes and 35 orphan girl costumes.  Then, there were 500 costumes for all the extras.  They had 2 1/2 months to make the costumes, but they were still sewing while filming was going on. 

To accommodate such a feat – there were several assistants, a supervisor and 25 dressers.  There was a cutter who cut out all the patterns – she had 8 assistants.  Outworkers around the world made the linen for the ruffs, collars and cuffs.   A Turkish man supplied material for the clothes and jewelry, while shoes were made in Italy.   Some extras costumes were rented from Spain and Italy.

All in all – outfitting a movie takes a huge amount of work!


The townhouse where Sophia and Cornelis live looks like a Dutch painting from the 1600s.  It is dark and moody and very beautiful.   I spent a few hours watching and rewatching the film in order to draw a floorplan of Cornelis and Sophia’s townhouse. 

This floorplan shows just the first floor.  Upstairs there are two bedrooms – one for Cornelis and one for Sophia, although they do tend to sleep in the same bed.

The Production Designer Simon Elliott was interviewed about the design of the Sandvoort’s townhouse.  The issue with then-typical long and narrow houses is there is no natural light in the middle of the house.  To correct this for the film – they created a courtyard that three rooms wrap around, enabling light from their windows to reach all interior rooms.

Describing the architecture of the house, Elliott continues: 'The front hallway is the public space of a Dutch house – it's where the master of the house would do his meeting and greeting and do any business transactions. Then you move through to a more private space ending up with the kitchens at the back of the house.   We facilitated a suite of bedrooms which are accessed through two staircases."

While the Production Designer used 1600s paintings as inspiration, he said that many paintings were actually exaggerated snapshots of interiors - used as advertisements for the artist's abilities.  In order to get a true description of houses as they actually were, Elliott also relied on written descriptions in books.  

This photo shows the oldest house in Leiden, built in 1375.   It was restored and was opened as a living museum in 1997.    These same windows, doors and locks were used in Tulip Fever, as were the Delft tiles.

In another room in the museum, the chandelier and stacked windows are two elements found in the movie.  The portrait on the walls is another feature found in Tulip Fever.

And, here, in the opening of Tulip Fever, Sophia walks through the enfilade in her house – there are five main rooms on the first floor.  The first room is Maria’s bedroom and kitchen, next is the dining room with mottled blue walls (shown here.)  The next room has a black & silver metallic like textured wallcovering.  Connecting to the black room is the Front Foyer room with beautiful blue and white fabric walls.  And Cornelis’ small blue painted study connects to the front room with blue & white fabric walls.

She reaches the Front Foyer room with the blue fabric walls.

All interiors of the Sandvoorts’ townhouse were shot in a studio in England.  

This is the Front Foyer room where the main door is.  During this time in Amsterdam, the Front Foyer room is the public space where the owner conducts his business and greets guests.  Cornelis’ study is adjacent to this front room.  

This Foyer has blue and white fabric covered walls, an evidence of wealth.   And, instead of rough hardwood floors, this room has brown and white marble floors.   The colors in this photo are off – they are much warmer than the actual colors in the film.

All fireplaces in the house are basically the same as this one, with blue and white delft tiles and a black iron back plate.  More evidence of wealth is the number of oil paintings that Cornelis owns.

For the film, the colors are muted and dark and are mostly blues and grays.   At that time, houses were lit by candles and peat fires – both “dirty light” as the cinematographer called it.   While filming, the cinematographer tried to capture the dark houses with dirty light, something that was definitely accomplished. 

When designing the interiors, Production Designer Simon Elliott looked to 17th century Dutch artists Pieter de Hooch and Gabriel Metsu for inspiration.  He was drawn to these two artists as opposed to Vermeer whose interiors were brighter and lighter – de Hooch and Metsu drew interiors that were darker and moodier.

This painting by Pieter de Hooch probably served as an inspiration to the Set Designer.   The color of the marble floor is similar to the Front Foyer, as is the design of the tall fireplace and the leaded windows.  The rug used as a tablecloth, the pewter, and the paintings over the mantel – are all details seen in the film, Tulip Fever.

Sophia and her maid Maria (Holliday Grainger) who plays a major role in the Shakespearian games. 

The sun is so beautiful streaming into this room.  Another painting from the movie.

Here is a close up of the blue and white fabric that lines the walls in Front Foyer. 

In the blue & white fabric room, Sophia cleans the fireplace to help Maria.  Notice the beautiful iron backplate and the Delft tiles.  For some reason, her ruff is on the chair, but she wouldn’t wear a ruff with a flat collar.    Notice the prominent placement of the bible – which is without a doubt the most read book in the house. 

And looking from the blue and white Foyer into Cornelis’ small study with its mottled blue painted walls.  The floor goes from the marble to rough hardwood planks in the study.

Notice the molding around the door.  

The interiors are filled with so many beautiful details!!

Cornelis Sandvoort uses the table with the textile on it as a desk.

The next room is the “black metallic room.”  Sophia stands in its door which opens to the central courtyard.  

Notice her gorgeous vest under the coat.  Stunning!  This costume is her most decorative.

And while I never liked the white ruffs before – I think they are beautiful on someone as pretty as Sophia.    The white ruff brings attention to her in such a wonderful way – it brightens her face.  Tulip Fever will certainly make you appreciate the ruffs as never before.

But, it does pay if the wearer of the ruff has a long neck.

This painting by Paulus Moreelse looks like it may have inspired Sophia’s dress, above.

Here Sophia enters the black metallic room from the back courtyard door.

Stairs lead up to the second floor bedrooms in the black metallic room.  At the left is the blue & white fabric room at the front of the house.

Sophia’s friends gather in the black metallic room.   The double windows in this very pretty room face the back courtyard.

A dinner with lots of children at a table set up in the black metallic room.  These chairs look more like William and Mary from the 18th century but I could be wrong.  The door between the windows opens up to the center courtyard.

Here you can see that in the black metallic room, the tiles are black and white which coordinate with the wallcovering.

This painting by Pieter de Hooch seems to be the inspiration for the black metallic room.  These walls are gold, not silver, but the treatment looks very similar.

Unfortunately, the set doesn’t have any cabinets as gorgeous as this one!!!


A moody night time view of the black metallic room.  The fireplace with its blue and white delft tiles is lit here, as is the brass chandelier.

The nude above the armoire in the black metallic room is a bit of a joke.  Sophia says the nude woman is Danae, Zeus’ lover. 

Maria the maid laughs and says – it’s actually Antonia, the tinsmith’s wife from down the street!

This exchange encourages the viewer to contemplate portrait painting in the Netherlands during the 1600s.    In such a small society – the models would be neighbors that everyone knew, like Antonia, the tinsmith’s wife. 

Art becomes a major part of the plot and the business of painting is weaved throughout the story when one day Cornelis suddenly announces that he wants his and Sophia portraits painted.

He didn’t care so much about hanging the portrait, he wanted it so that it will become his legacy long after his death. 

And here the intrigue begins when Sophia is first seen by the artist Jan von Loos as she descends the stairs in her vibrant blue dress.

Is there anyway that Jan can avoid falling in love with the beautiful Sophia?


Their portrait is painted in the black metallic room.

An actual artist, Jamie Routley, was hired by the Production Team. Routley painted four stages of the final portrait – here are two of his preliminary head shots.   The final portrait was also painted by Routley.     Routley taught actor Dane aka Jan van Loos how to paint so that when he was filmed working on the portraits – it would appear authentic. 

Frans Hals portrait of a wealthy man – did this serve as inspiration for Cornelis’ costumes and posture?

And here, the final pose for the portrait.  Cornelis wanted to wear his feathered black hat, but the artist removed it, much to Cornelis' objection. 

Here, hanging in the black metallic room is the final portrait.

This actual painting was recently auctioned off, as were many costumes and props from the movie.   More auctions of the props that didn't sell are scheduled.   HERE.

Alicia Vikander aka Sophia has the most gorgeous neck.  No wonder she looks so pretty in the huge ruff collars!

And here in the obligatory “Girl with a Pearl Earring” pose.  The two books – Tulip Fever and Girl with a Pearl Earring were both released in the same year, 1999, though I don’t know which came first. 

What is most telling is that the film “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was released in 2003, while Tulip Fever was delayed until 2017, thanks in part to Harvey Weinstein.

And here is the famous Vermeer painting.   As usual, there is ultramarine blue, that rare and very expensive paint that was made back then with lapis lazuli.   That Sophia’s dress would be painted this vibrant color could only happen if she was wealthy enough to pay for the paint.  Read more about this alluring paint color  HERE.

Was this painting by Vermeer an inspiration for Sophia’s own blue dress?

This scene shows the process of making the expensive ultramarine paint from lapis lazuli.

The next room is the mottled blue painted dining room – connected to the black metallic room.  Not seen here is that next to Sophia is a blue velvet canopy bed that sits in the corner of the room.   I think before couches were common – there were beds in many rooms besides bedrooms.

Next to the fireplace in the corner is a blue velvet canopy bed.

This is a screen cap, there are no photos of this bed.

Looks like a painting!!!   Here Maria the maid serves Cornelis dinner in the blue dining room.  You can just barely see the kitchen behind her, which is next to the dining room.

Here in the blue dining room, Maria and Sophia go up the second set of stairs, in the kitchen – which is also Maria’s bedroom.

I LOVE this photo – another painting!   The two vases, the chairs – just beautiful.

Here Cornelis and Sophia talk in the center courtyard – if you look on the floorplan, you can see the courtyard is between the kitchen and the black metallic room.   Here, you can see into the kitchen through the door.  And notice that the wood shutter cover only the bottom windows.

This painting shows a Dutch house, with its foyer off a courtyard - which might have inspired the production designer.

A beautiful and much valued breaker tulip was left in the kitchen window.

And here, off the blue dining room is the kitchen AND Maria’s bedroom.  Rather than wood, she has a slate floor.  One of the barrels serves as Maria’s vanity table.  Notice her “box bed” – behind the wool curtains and her bed warmer hanging there. 

Maria and her boyfriend almost steal the movie from the main stars – they are such a wonderful couple!  While their love is so true and romantic and physical - the comparison to Cornelis and Sophia is heartbreaking, that is until Sophia meets Jan van Loos, the young artist.

Another view Production.  Pewter plates and pitchers sit on the shelves while a pot boils over the fire. 

A Pieter de Hooch painting that might have influenced the Set Designer.  Notice the same tile floor and the box bed as Maria’s kitchen/bedroom.  The leaded windows are exact copies of the ones in the film.

The Set Designer said that this particular artist was an influence – which just makes the movie seem so much more authentic.

This is the original house that is now a museum in Leiden, The Netherlands.  Notice the Delft tiles on the fireplace and the box bed – in the dining room, similar to the one in the film.  Maria has a bed warmer just like this on her box bed.

Maria washes clothes in the courtyard while Sophia talks to her.

A maid and her mistress in the courtyard - very similar to Maria and Sophia.

Notice the mistress’ coat – a short, pelmet style with fur cuffs, collar, and hem.  This type of coat is seen in many paintings from this time.

In several scenes, Sophia wears a similar coat with fur collar and hem.


A bedroom – which shows a canopy bed, much like those in Tulip Fever.  In Sophia’s bedrooms, the beds have a row of fringe, just like this bed.  I love this original skirted table!

Artist:  Matthijs Naiveu

Upstairs are two bedrooms.  Here in the first room is a pretty blue velvet bed with fringe, where Cornelis and Sophia sleep.

In this bedroom, there are double windows that overlook the courtyard.  Cornelis and the two women pray here at night. 

In the move they make the bed and the sheets are linen, so thick and heavy – they look lovely!  At the end of the bed is a large wood trunk.

In the second bedroom, the bed is a green cut velvet with fringe.

Maria tries on Sophia’s blue dress. 

The second bedroom - with the cut velvet bed curtains.

Sophia’s dressing table is along the row of windows.  A pewter bowl and pitcher serve as her sink.

The two girls have upset stomachs – in the pewter “sink.”  Sorry about that!    But I wanted you to see the beautiful tapestries that line the walls in this second bedroom.  These tapestries are another sign of great wealth.

As you can tell, a lot of action takes place in this second bedroom!

Another gorgeous night photo and painting! – with the candelabra and the tapestries.

Oh Cornelis!  Give it up already!!! 

This painting shows the walls covered in tapestries, just like the bedroom in the Sandvoort's house.  But this house shows the owners to be more wealthy than the Sandvoorts, this house is much more extravagant. 

Sophia sees the doctor who is such an hysterical character, very funny.  His office has a back bedroom - probably this is his office/house.  The walls are beautiful – block wood paneling.  They look antique - I'm not sure if this was just a set on a soundstage, but if so, they did a remarkable job creating it.

Another pretty visual – is the dark street and Sophia’s dark clothes – yet the vase and the orange tulips are so vibrant, as if they were glowing. 

Are the tulips real,  they can’t be!  They seem so vibrant.

This blue and white vase one just sold at the auction, mentioned before.

Two dandies.   Here, with their white ruffs, black clothes, and black cowboy hats (!) – the men look so striking.  Cornelis has a large white feather in his hat.

The streets of Amsterdam were recreated at an old, private boarding school in Surrey called Cobham Hall.   The building is Grade I listed and the two wings where Tulip Fever was filmed was built in the 16th century, which matched the story’s timeline. 

It took two months to build the set which includes a canal and bridges.

What's interesting about Cobham is that each of its two wings has a span of 250 feet long which made it perfect to recreate a street – and build a canal!

Instead of digging a canal, it was built over the ground floor.

A view of the canal being built – over the ground.

A little further along, the bridge was now built.

And here is 3 foot deep canal filled with water before filming. 

Alicia Vikander said the street was so realistic, that she spent a day before filming just walking around to get the feel of the streets.

AND here is the final street scene. 

The Great Plague had just ended 8 years before this story begins.  Amsterdam was a swamp, very closed in with unsanitary canals and very dirty streets.  While the streets were filthy, home owners were known to kept their tall and narrow, dark red bricked houses neat and clean behind their closed front doors.   The goal of the Production Designer Simon Elliot was to show the streets as cramped, as over crowded, and as dirty as possible, while Carlise and Sophia’s house would be as pristine as possible.    


Lit for the nighttime. 

A coffin, on a boat, is slowly carried down the canal in a very moody scene filled with fog.


The Norwich Cathedral in Norfolk is featured prominently in the movie.  It’s both the abbey and the orphanage where Sophia lived as a child and teenager.

Here is the courtyard as it usually is - just grass.

The same courtyard during filming.  The raised beds were surrounded by willow branches.   Later, the beds will be filled with blooming tulips.   Dench joked that her costars were cows.

Dame Judi Dench plays the Abbess - here she walks through its famous arches.

Dench owes much of her success to the movies she made with Harvey Weinstein.   She has been nominated for seven Oscars - three were made with Weinstein, including Shakespeare in Love, the movie which she won her Oscar for.

Dench claimed she had tattooed Weinstein's initials on her bum, which she showed him while out at fancy NYC restaurant - but later she said it was a fake tattoo. 

I was curious,  did Dench know about Weinstein's reputation and abuses?  Did she speak out against him?

The answer is - yes, she did.  Dench issued a statement saying she was "completely unaware of the horrifying claims" about Weinstein. 

Further, she said "I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholeheartedly support those who have spoken out."

I haven't written about the "Me Too" story but I do have my own opinions, as I'm sure you do.  And I'm sure it wasn't easy for Dench to lose a friend and a collaborator, especially one she gives credit for starting her award winning career.

But, she can't defend the indefensible. 

The man is a monster.

Moving on.......

The Abbess is a tough bird - she smokes a clay pipe, and knows the value of a tulip bulb.

Quite a few of the old Dutch masters show women smoking these white clay pipes.

Jan van Loos, now older, is seen painting in the abbey.  His dress announces that he has become much more successful than he was when he was a starving young artist seen in the beginning of the movie.

I am TRYING  so hard not to give the plot away in case you haven't seen the movie yet!!!

Dane's paint palette is also for sale in the auction.

Deborah Muggoch, author of Tulip Fever and co-writer of the film’s screenplay, puts on her costume for her small part in the movie.


I'm obsessed with the Sandvoort's townhouse and I love that the Production Designer, Simon Elliott, used paintings and books to get an absolutely authentic look to the rooms.  All his work paid off.  While the director, producer and the stars won’t get an Oscar nod, I can see that the costume and set designers might get one – they would be so deserving.

Another one is Holliday Grainger for Supporting Actress as Maria, the maid.

She is so wonderful in this movie.  I watched it a LOT while preparing this story and her expressions are so real while she portrays her sadness, happiness, passion, hatred – Grainger is very deserving of a nomination and I hope she gets one! 

To read the book, click on the photo above.

To read about Tulip Mania, click the photo above.


Costumes and props from Tulip Fever are currently being auctioned off.  For more information, go HERE.


Here are a few -
“Get The Look”

Nothing says The Netherlands more than old master portraits.


Girl With A Pearl Earring

Antique Dutch Pillow Cabinet, 1900s HERE

Nude Portrait HERE

Vintage Tole Tulipiere,  HERE

Chest HERE

Antique Dutch Cradle HERE

Unfinished chest  HERE

Tulip botanical HERE

Model of Dutch House, three versions    HERE

Round Table HERE


Chandelier HERE

Flowers  HERE

Kubu Trunk HERE

Antique gate leg table HERE

chandelier HERE

Vintage Dutch Landscape HERE

Bleached Dining table HERE


  1. Wow! I just got back from Belgium, the northern part of which at that period was part of the Netherlands. The photos are so amazing, and really capture the place. So much to note here!
    --I had just clicked on your post when I got an email alert from that Weinstein was close to being sold.
    --re tulips, they were from central Asia and at that time were pretty rare and hard to get. Seeing the tulip fields in the Netherlands is really something, especially around Keukenhof, which is touristy but gorgeous.
    --you see lots of ruffs in el Greco paintings from Spain. The Netherlands and Spain are closely linked (especially in the period of the film)--the color of the Netherlands is orange, after the oranges from Spain, and Sinterklass--Saint Nick--arrives in the Netherlands by boat from Spain, along with his sidekick Zwarte Piet, who is dressed like a blackamoor.
    --the Netherlands and Belgium are still renowned for their handmade lace. Lace cuffs and embroidery deserve to come back, don't you think?
    --glass in windows would have been fairly new (and it couldn't be made in big expanses, which is why small bits were held together with lead); before that windows were just holes in the wall, covered with a shutter at night and, at most, thin paper by day to let in light without too much wind/rain/cold. Doesn't that sound miserable?
    --kitchens were in the back of the house, as far as possible from the living areas, because they stunk. Toilets, which also stunk, were usually near the kitchen, to keep the odors in one spot. Yes, there were chamber pots, but they also had little closets for doing one's business.
    --the backplates of the fireplaces are works of art. We have one in our Carcassonne apartment with a Bacchus drinking wine. My husband bought another with a war scene that is at the back of our patio barbecue. They are great at absorbing the heat.
    --the doctor's bedroom is probably next to his office because he would have lived and worked in the same place. All the doctors I know here have offices in their homes. And they do housecalls. Socialized medicine.
    --you can find antiques like the ones in the movie for a song here. Solid wood, amazing carvings. Come and I'll take you to all the best places!

    1. The color of the Netherlands is orange after William of Orange, founding father of the Dutch Republic. It is the color of the Dutch royal family.

  2. Regarding windows - honestly, I don't know how people lived back then, the cold. It must have been miserable!!! I am so cold in Houston now that all I do is complain about the cold and it's not even that cold. I would never have made it back then with no windows.

    Yes - you are right about there not being large expanses of glass back then, hence the leaded windows. IN the south, many kitchens were removed from the house altogether - because of fire.

    Thanks for your great comment! I have a new system that alerts me to mail as opposed to having to go find it on the website. Now I see the comments as they come in and it's wonderful for replying quickly!!!

  3. As usual you have done a wonderful job Joni! Somehow the way you present this makes me feel like I might one day replicate a mood like we see in these rooms. Funny to say, it did take away from the wonderfulness that it was a HW film (can't even say his name). It makes me wonder about the young, beautiful female stars and if they were approached, or worse. ~Ana

  4. Well, Alicia has been with Michael Fassbinder for a while -2014, so right after this movie I guess. Still, I doubt she would fall into his trap. But yes - he ruined this movie with the delays and the cuts. He's just horrible. What's weird is he has a charismatic personality. I always enjoyed listening to him talk - found him very interesting, very intelligent, funny. I can't imagine how disgusted people were - the ones who didn't know. yuck!!!!!!!!

    1. "the ones who didn't know"...who? Like The One who waited to get lots of Golden Globes and Oscars and numerous homes before "knowing"?
      Give me a bleedin' break! Someone is pretzeling Themself right now, trying to talk Their way out of this. Hope it doesn't work, but the lemmings are probably easily re-swayed back into adoration for their Queen.

    2. Tulip Fever" was not "ruined" by delays and cuts or because he is "just horrible." Funny. Critics didn't like it. Movies pre-panned by critics are often held back to be released at the right time and re-editing is done to try to fix it.

    3. I am sure there are those who didn't know about HWs abuse or the extent of it. And I'm sure it's so widespread that he was just another one. I will say this. I read an article about HW from one of his abused. Someone I had never heard of. She was an actress and she wanted HW to help her career. She willingly went with him to eat and drink because she wanted him to make her career. AFter several casual meetings - he pounced. After reading her account I was left thinking how she used him just as he used her. She didn't like him, didn't want to date him, probably didn't want to be in the same room, but she wanted him further her career and she was willing to charm him, flirt, etc. for anything he would give her. It just left me cold reading her account. I'm not taking up for him, I think he's horrible. But, I do think that he was used to beautiful women throwing themselves at him for favors. I shouldn't say this because you will think I don't think he is guilty. I do. I just think there is more to the story of powerful men and women who want some of that. I'm sure Judi Dench didn't sleep around for her acclaim. She earned it herself on her talent, alone. Meryl Streep. same. Melissa McCarthy? Same. Roseanne? same. Hollywood is filled with powerful women who are talented and got their fame without sleeping around. It's those beautiful women who are fighting for too few roles, with marginal talent that are just as stereotyped as the lecherous directors. i should erase this!

    4. In reply to: "Tulip Fever" was not "ruined" by delays and cuts or because he is "just horrible." Funny. Critics didn't like it. Movies pre-panned by critics are often held back to be released at the right time and re-editing is done to try to fix it."

      If you read the reviews you will see where the emphasis was - on Harvey and he cutting and his slide (he was on the way down before the scandal broke) - the expectation for this movie - a few years ago - was that it was going to be another oscar winner by Harvey. The reviewers expected that and because it isn't, they were going to pan it. To me, reading most of the reviews, it seemed like there was politics involved. Compared to all the movies that came out this year, I loved it. Shoot me.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. If you read EARLIER press on the film, you can get a different view.
      Yeah, I guess a few years ago when Weinstein was hot, maybe there was higher expectation for this movie. There was high expectation for all his movies. But it was never the kind of movie that tons of people go see. This is the kind of film studios make to be respected for and maybe get awards for, (costumes, makeup, art direction) not to make money.
      If you personally loved it, well, that's nice for you.
      And as for one certain actress who is howling that she didn't know, I don't believe her for one second.

    7. To: The Swan 1:12 PM
      What the heck was that?

    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    9. Joni,
      There were a number of good movies that came out this year. A large number of people never hear about some of the best movies because they don't show all of them at the chain theaters. Look for a theater in your area that shows the "small" independent films. Sometimes they will be "picked up" by a larger company for distribution at a film festival if they are lucky. (And good)
      Here's a really cute movie for you; it is called "Kedi." Don't read about it first; just trust me and watch it! Available to stream.

  5. The set photos in this post are very beautiful and do look like paintings. I am in awe of this post. Joni you truly set the story around the movie up for success. I feel as though I should have first poured a delicious glass of wine before reading this, because it was so intriguing and felt like I time traveled to indulge in a few Dutch luxuries of the past. The tulip history is fascinating. I can't wait until tomorrow evening to enjoy watching the movie!

    ~ Elena

  6. I'm awestruck by the beauty of this film. I have a great passion for historical clothing and costume, and appreciate when costume designers strive for accuracy in their films.
    Thank you for a post I will save and read many times over!

  7. What a post! I'm going to watch this ASAP. Also, The Enchanted Home's shop sells the blue and white porcelain tulipieres here: and I had just been thinking about getting one before I saw this post!

    1. Ok, I had to order one! I can't wait to get it and fill it with tulips! I'm sorry I didn't have it at Xmas to fill with red ones...

  8. I can't believe you didn't mention Tim's Vermeer the movie! If you haven't seen it you MUST! It's fascinating

    1. well - this wasn't about Vermeer - year's ago there was a bombshell book about the camera obscura by David Hockney - I even wrote about it over 10 years ago.

      boy - I certainly write different than 10 years ago!! don't read that = it's so embarrassing.

      The use of cameras and mirrors in the masters is not new. I would highly recommend Hockney's book. He started this theory after studying Andy Warhol's drawings. It's fascinating.

    2. Oooooo I'll check it out! :)

  9. Wow! Fascinating post, Joni.

  10. So beautifully written Joni and your photos and the set design details are fascinating. Can't wait to watch this, if only for the set and costume design. Tulips still seem to be everyones favorite market flower as well as a favorite for all avid gardeners. They are actually somewhat expensive to purchase for the garden and can be difficult to grow sometimes, at least for this gardener ; )
    Happy New Year! kelley

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Filming locations:
      "Girl with the Pearl Earring"
      Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg
      "Tulip Fever"
      England, Austria

    2. The Swan is off its meds again.

    3. Joni, I don’t know what an AVERY QUINN is, perhaps you can illuminate it a creature of Putin, or is it like ANONYMOUS - a little troll with orange skin and bleached hair, or a Gollum like simpleton with a perplexing propensity of Tourette’s Syndrome. Likening my comments to a lack of meds is so high school it must be a combo of all. Nor do I understand the stalker mentality of your Sheila, pouncing on each of my words, looking up facts online to correct. One can say it seems your blog has been earmarked by a few who share an affinity with our Nations dilemma of Dimwit et Co currently holed up like squatters in the White House...thus their allegiance to belittling. I do hope you are cognizant of the changes...many voices can help clear the air of this pollution that wishes to undermine our great nation...I do feel some of these comments may be coming from a troll farm. You are a celeb in the blog world after all.

    4. Just ignore. I do. Don't feed the trolls - they are very hungry!!! lol.

      I love your comments and your insight.

    5. Love and Light to you and yours...amen!

  12. Wow! I am exhausted....but so enjoyed your post today! Thank you, again Joni, for your tireless devotion to informing those of us who love all things beautiful. I would have to say you are one of the few delights in my blog world that I would set aside an hour or so to go over every detail of your insightful and so interesting posts.
    The other movie I have so loved and looked like every shot was taken from a painting is "Pride and Prejudice" (the new version).
    Watching Tulip Fever movie tonight!
    Best wishes for a Beautiful New Year!
    Judith Presgrove

  13. Any idea on how they did the mottled blue dining room?

    1. It looks like sponge - it is beautiful though.

  14. If you love tulips, and would like to see miles and miles of fields in bloom, please come to the Skagit Valley tulip festival in Washington state. Check the website for dates as time goes on; it's in April, I think, more or less, but tulips don't read, so they don't bloom on an exact schedule...ha! You can come before (or after) official dates if tulips have bloomed and beat the crowds.
    The area is backed by mountains and is gorgeous. There are a number of cute towns in the area to peruse also.
    It's a wonderful place.

  15. Joni,

    I’m a blog-response novice, but am so grateful for the time and energy you spent (hours and hours, and it shows!) for this post. I have sent it to dear ones with instructions to plug the tablet into the TV so they can enjoy the feast that you have provided. Thank you again. I’m thrilled.

    (BTW, I happen to live about 7 minutes from the tulip fields that Anonymous is discussing, and they are beyond glorious. You can bring the kiddos—plenty of room for them to run while you stroll around saying,”No, THIS is the most beautiful!” The show gardens stay lovely for a month or six weeks, and Anacortes is a great place to visit: it’s the port for the ferries to the San Juan Islands and Victoria; there are plenty of outdoor things to do summer, fall, winter, and spring; probably 15 quilt stores in a two hour radius and nearly as many knitting and weaving shops; wonderful museums and cultural activities (hear Cantabile if you have a chance); and there’s plenty of yummy Northwest foodie food. I do have to go home to Texas for Mexican, though. And no, I don’t work for the Chamber of Commerce. Yet. Just be sure to go home at the end!)

    1. Thanks for a great comment!!!!! You are so lucky!! do you know Ron von Empel? You should go meet him in Leiden. He's so nice and so talented.

    2. To Diane R,
      Hi, I'm Anon 5:03 PM. Thanks for confirming what I said about the Skagit Valley Tulip festival. For some reason, people just don't seem to believe or listen to me anymore. I'm beginning to think it's another symptom of old age.

    3. Joni,
      I'm confused now. What would make you think Diane R from Washington state might know Ron von Empel?

    4. Joni, I didn't mean any "shade" by asking this previous question, but I kept reading Diane R's comment over and over because I couldn't figure out how she might know Ron von Empel. I had remembered you bringing him up in the past.

    5. Actually someone personally emailed me and I didn't realized it was not on here. I read more comments and hit reply and it took me here where I made the mistake. Sorry! My encouragement to meet Ron stands though. He is so talented and such a sweet man. Thanks for pointing out my mistake Sheila!!!!

    6. I would love to meet him. It would be an excuse to go back to the Netherlands. It's so picturesque, right down to the girls in the red-light district sitting in their picture windows in their underwear knitting and reading. I'm being serious; everyone should see it and it's a beautiful neighborhood. Just like Disneyland...almost...ha!

  16. One comment -- the walls of the "black metallic room" are actually embossed leather, which was applied in panels as decoration at that time. You can see more examples if you google "Dutch embossed leather walls". Several Dutch museums have rooms covered in these panels. I recall seeing one at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem.

    1. Thanks for that; I just Googled it. Very interesting. I'm old and very, very seldom see something I haven't seen before!
      Very Cool.

    2. I figured it was authentic from that painting. You can see the panels in the film were screwed on but I didnt know if that was authentic. Thanks so much for this - going to google it now!

  17. I consider you the most outstanding of bloggers! Tulip Mania? It's more than obvious how hard you work to bring your followers well-researched, interesting, gorgeous and intelligent blogs. I will sit down and cry my eyes out if you ever stop! Thank you.

  18. Joni,
    New movie I'm SO sure you will love, Daniel Day-Lewis' new, and what he says will be his last film, "Phantom Thread." It's right up your alley! (And mine.)
    You can thank me later! It just came out on Christmas day, so if you only watch movies at home that will be a while. Have a night out why don't you?!

    1. Now showing at Landmark River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray Street, Houston

  19. Joni, if I'm looking at it right, this movie doesn't start at the River Oaks until next Friday, January 12.

    1. i can not WAIT for it!!! But I'll wait for on demand because that way I can screen cap for the blog. It looks soooo good! Are you from Houston?

    2. I'm not from Houston, but I lived there once, many years ago, for about 6 months or so with my husband who later became a bit well known in the area. (For something good...ha!)

    3. OK I was wondering where you were talking about the Landmark. actually that theater is one of the original ones in Houston. I saw Mockingbird there as a little girl. AND The Parent Trap. TOday, the one theater has been cut up in several smaller ones which is such a shame.

    4. I looked up where "Phantom Thread" would be showing and it will be at that theater. Have a night out and see it on the big screen! You can always watch it again in a few months at home to write about it and do screen shots. These smaller venues are actually cozy and nice to watch a film. Maybe they have cocktails like my local theater!

    5. Sheila, I think we live close. Can you locate me on twitter where I use my full name? I think I once replied to one of Joni's tweets sometime ago. Letty

    6. Letty,
      I'm not on Twitter, so I can't contact you that way. I live in the western part of the U.S. I did say once, "Let's meet for tea!," but I don't know where you live...

  20. This post is completely beautiful! Thank you, Joni, as always. Your attention to detail is always amazing.

  21. Wow! Just when I think nothing can top your "Royal" posts, comes along this beauty. Thank you so much for such amazing research and background. I learn so much and come away so enlightened and informed. I can't wait to see this movie now. Bravo!!

  22. I believe you may have outdone yourself! This is the most fascinating and beautiful post! Thank you

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