Description & Technical information

This watercolour depicts a parrot tulip, one of the fifteen divisions or groups into which the larger family of tulips (Tulipa) are sorted. These large, exotic plants derive their name from their vibrant colouring and long petals with fringed, curly edges. As Beeton’s Gardening Book, published in 1874, noted of them, ‘The parrot tulip has a singularly picturesque appearance; the flowers are large and the colours brilliant, so that when planted in flower-borders and the front of shrubberies they produce a most striking effect. When grown in hanging baskets, and so planted as to cause their large gay flowers to droop over the side, the effect is remarkable and unique.’ The particular type of parrot tulip depicted here is the Tulip ‘Estella Rijnveld’ (also sometimes known as the ‘Gay Presto’), which blooms in late spring. 

As noted in the catalogue of a recent exhibition of the artist’s small-scale watercolours on vellum, ‘Fiona Strickland has long been drawn to tulips, finding their colour, shape, and form visually engaging, and the history of their depiction in art intellectually fascinating…she follows in the footsteps of illustrious artistic forebears, including the painters of the Dutch Golden Age such as Ambrosius Bosschaert, Balthasar van der Ast, and Jacob Marrel, whose seventeenth-century Tulip Book she travelled to study at close-hand in the Rijksmuseum in 2016…Often depicting flowers from an unusual viewpoint or at turning points in their life cycle, her paintings act as portraits of individual flowers, rather than scientific representations of a species.’ Strickland is a member of the Wakefield and North of England Tulip Society, founded in the early 19th century, and often paints individual tulips from the society’s annual shows.

Medium: Watercolour on Fabriano paper
Signature: Signed Fiona Strickland in pencil at the bottom centre. 

Dimensions: 48 x 69.5 cm (18⁷/₈ x 27³/₈ inches)
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints