Adriaen Maertensz. Block

Albrecht Pietersz. de Wit, 1621

Adriaen Maertensz was successively the captain, commander, and governor of Ambon and the administrator of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). After a long but questionable career, he was suspended from office. He returned to his homeland where he had a large estate: the current Keukenhof.

As Adriaen grew older and wiser, he had a change of heart and decided to have his portrait painted to prove to the world that beauty comes from within.


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  • The Blooming Dutch

    Keukenhof Holland

    The artwork and stories as presented have been created by The Green Surfer, commissioned by Albron. The images as presented in the exposition ‘The Blooming Dutch’  and this website are creative expressions based on a combination of fact and fiction. Although the stories have a historic background, much of the content is based on observations and unverified tales. Please be advised not to interpret these stories in opposition to proven history. The artwork is greatly based on visual observations and existing art work. The Green Surfer claims the ownership of the storylines and the artwork as presented on this exposition and website. None of the presented art may be used for public display or reproduction without our written consent.



  • The White Witches

    Wessel van Willemzorg, 1685

    The legend of the ‘Witte Wieven’ (‘white ladies’) is well-known in the Netherlands and refers to the ghostly beings that appear as the fog settles over the landscape. Those pure of heart are shown the right path if they find themselves lost, but those dark of heart are lured into the marshes and swamps to be swallowed up forever.

    This is why the fog that rose above tulip fields was traditionally welcomed. Fear is unnecessary if your intentions are pure. So make sure the path you take is a righteous one!



  • The Alchemist

    Antonie de With, 1638

    During the Golden Age, Aert Blauhulck was obsessed with the ‘black tulip’. In those days, black tulips were one of the greatest imaginable treasures. Some tried to grow the elusive black tulip through cross-fertilisation; other, less patient individuals took a more adventurous route: alchemy.

    While attempting to fulfil his ultimate dream of growing a black tulip, Blauhulck blew himself and his laboratory up. The huge explosion left a crater in the landscape, which now forms the Keukenhof pond.



  • The Bulb Crash Banker

    Hendrick Blauhulck, 1637

    Wealth and riches are an ancient pursuit. The unwavering conviction in the tulip trade led to high-risk investments and desperation.

    The collapse of the tulip industry was an economic disaster. And history is known to repeat itself! Many more economic disasters have unfolded since the tulip crash. After the wealthy Alfonsz Jansz lost his fortune, he had his portrait painted to warn future generations against following in his unfortunate footsteps.



  • The Sawmill Miracle

    Albrecht Pietersz. de Wit, 1594

    In the sixteenth century, the Dutch shipbuilding industry was no match for that of larger neighbouring countries. But what the Netherlands lacked in size it made up for in smarts. One of the brightest innovations came from the wife of a mill owner.

    Planks were often used to strengthen ships, so the wife enlisted her husband’s help to convert the mill into an efficient wind-powered sawing machine. One of the first mechanical machines in history! This marked the start of the Netherlands’ maritime success. It helped them sail distant seas and keep the country out of the clutches of major powers.



  • Tulipa Giganticae

    Bartholomeus van der Valck, 1663

    Not all historical remnants are visible today. A Dutch soil researcher and discoverer named Gijsbertus van der Valck discovered a remarkable plant on Mauritius. It looked like a giant tulip that could grow up to two metres in height.

    The researcher tried to protect this unique plant, but the specimens he sent back to the Netherlands did not survive the trip. During long, windless periods, the crew was forced to conserve drinking water. This meant the plants had to go without and were eventually tossed overboard. The giant tulip was never spoken of or seen again. The only thing that remained was the plaster model.

    An unhappy coincidence: the discovery site happens to be the same place where the dodo bird went extinct.



  • The Flying Dutchman

    Harmen van Kniphuysen. 1621

    On 1 August 1674, the Netherlands was hit by one of the worst storms in history.  It destroyed church towers and houses and it plucked entire ships from the water and sucked them into the sky.

    The most extreme case is that of the maritime ship the ‘Halve Maen’, which ended up in a tulip field ten miles inland. The ship was left untouched for sixty years and became fodder for the famous legend of the Flying Dutchman. Schiphol Airport was purportedly named in part after this dramatic event.



  • The Mash Pot Victory

    Gerrit Opheij, 1612

    In 1574, the city of Leiden experienced a four-month siege. The people were starving. But on 3 October, the Prince of Orange commanded the dikes to be broken. The rising water forced the Spanish to flee. A small boy, Cornelis Joppensz, climbed over the walls and crept into the Spanish camp. There, he discovered that the Spanish had left behind a pot of ‘hutspot’ (potato and carrot mash). And it was still hot! This mash is still eaten by Leiden residents during the 3 October festivities.



  • The First Trader of Wall Street

    Aert Wessels, 1621

    The history of New Amsterdam (present-day New York, founded in 1609) is as colourful as the tulips that bloom in the Keukenhof. The city was a melting pot of open-minded people and offered freedom of religion and culture to all who settled there. The imported Dutch tulips were a symbol of peace and were used to encourage trade with the surrounding tribes.

    This is Xituapan, a Native American who sold his tulips near present-day Wall Street, formerly known as ‘de Wallen’. It’s safe to say that he was the very first Wall Street trader.



  • The Garland Man

    Willem de Maeker, 1636

    During his very first voyage, Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand, Tasmania, and the Polynesian island of Fiji. One crewmember became so entranced by the exotic lifestyle of the local population that he adopted many of the local customs, eating habits, and traditions, such as surfing, and made them his own.

    On the journey home, he decided to abandon ship to pursue his new lifestyle. Back on Dutch soil, and according to Fijian tradition, he greeted people with the traditional Polynesian ‘flower power’ garland, whenever he had them at hand. This flower garland has since become a tradition in the bulb region.



  • The Fourth King

    Ingeborg de Jongh, 1690

    The story of the Three Kings is well known, but few people know the story of the Fourth King. In his wisdom, he decided that a colourful life on earth was the greatest gift he could bestow.

    But having failed to spot the brightest star due to cloudy skies, he missed the magical birth. This meant he could not give the most precious gift of all: the tulip. In the Netherlands, the Fourth King reminds people to acknowledge those who mean well, but have terrible timing.



  • BitterBulbs

    Rieckje Tromp, 1662

    Flower bulbs became utterly worthless after the collapse of the tulip trade in the Golden Age. The situation had become so dire that people came up with creative ways to sell their wares. Miriam Riecken was a clever woman who made a culinary discovery in the form of deep-fried, breaded tulip bulbs. She referred to these delicacies as ‘bitterbollen’ because of their bitter taste.

    Over time, the bulbs were replaced with a different filling, which explains the ‘bitter’ in the Dutch word ‘bitterbal’. These snacks are still immensely popular in the Netherlands.



  • Adriaen Maertensz. Block

    Albrecht Pietersz. de Wit, 1621

    Adriaen Maertensz was successively the captain, commander, and governor of Ambon and the administrator of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). After a long but questionable career, he was suspended from office. He returned to his homeland where he had a large estate: the current Keukenhof.

    As Adriaen grew older and wiser, he had a change of heart and decided to have his portrait painted to prove to the world that beauty comes from within.


  • The Carefree Hunter

    Joep van Verdegael, 1655

    As a hunter, Anthonie Oosthoek was famous for marching to the beat of his own drum. He made sure the owner of the Keukenhof always had plenty of meat and game to eat. Oosthoek was not a fan of hard work or physical exertion.

    So he designed a unique long-range rifle that remained the most high-precision weapon ever made, even two centuries after the first shot was fired. This weapon made it possible for Oosthoek to shoot game from a distance of two miles, without having to interrupt lunch under his favourite tree. His trusty dog did the legwork.


  • The Robin Hood of Tulips

    Harmen van Kniphuysen, 1621

    Who was the elusive hero who first introduced tulips to this region and helped the market flourish? It all started with a remarkable theft.

    Carolus Clusius, a man of science, received a shipment of tulips from Turkey and planted them in the garden outside Leiden University for research purposes. One night, the tulips were stolen by an unknown person. In just two short years, the Bollenstreek (‘bulb region’) started to blossom with fields of flowers. The thief was lauded as a hero and his identity was kept secret. Until now! Let us give credit where credit is due: that elusive thief was ‘Visch’ Verdonckermaen!

  • The Story behind the Blooming Dutch

    Keukenhof Holland

    History is seldom shaped by average persons. The world needs uncommon ones, who take on unlogic and daring steps and adventures.

    The Blooming Dutch offers a unique painting collection of those surprising Dutch individuals that coloured our history. They gave the world some incredible stories to tell.

    Even more: they still inspire us to dare and take the uncommon road. That is when greatness happens. Even today.