Spring is the time for the big clean-up, of young animals, blossom trees, flowers and, in the Netherlands, of colorful flowering bulb fields. In April and May, the flower bulbs are in bloom in the area around Lisse, and actually in the entire coastal region between Haarlem and Katwijk. As early as the 17th century, the cultivation of tulip bulbs started in Holland on excavated dunes near Haarlem and Overveen. Tulips, daffodils and hyacinths turned out to thrive in this chalky sandy soil. In the course of the 18th and 19th century, bulb cultivation expanded to the south - via Hillegom and Lisse - and old dunes and dune forests made way for extensive bulb fields. Flower bulbs became an important Dutch export product and the blossoming fields became a major tourist attraction.
Artists also attracted their remarkable color splendor. In the second half of the 19th century it was the foreign painters who "discovered" the bulb fields as a subject. The French impressionist Claude Monet was one of the first to paint them, during a trip through the Netherlands in 1886. Enormous fields full of flowers, wonderfully beautiful but to drive the poor painter mad. "Our meager palette is out of the question," he wrote to a friend in Paris. From the last two decades of the 19th century, many more foreign artists came to our country to capture our bulb fields on canvas. From the 20th century onwards, Dutch painters were also impressed by it. At that time there were dozens of small growers and the activity around flower cultivation was a wonderful spectacle for painters. For example, every year, from March to the beginning of May, when the bulb fields in the Heemstede area were in bloom, Anton L. Koster went outside to study them. With the invention of paint tubes, outdoor painting had been on the rise since the mid-19th century. With a folding chair and painting box he worked in the middle of the bulb fields. He made his studies, no larger than 30 x 44 cm, on cloths, which he attached to the lid of the painting box with thumbtacks, and then attached them to a thick cardboard or panel at home. They served as an example for larger paintings that Koster made in his studio, but were also readily sold at the time because, in their spontaneity, they were often just as attractive as the finished paintings.