By the turn of the 17th century, the tulip became a horticultural novelty. Bosschaert and his contemporaries were particularly interested in the variety of tulips, such as those shown in this picture. The flower was spotted for the first time in the mid-16th century at the Turkish court in Constantinople by the Flemish diplomat Gislain de Busbecq, who proceeded to send tulips to the botanical gardens of Western Europe. By 1629, more than 140 varieties were cultivated through cross-breeding, some commanding prices equivalent to the cost of houses. In the Dutch tulip trade, pictures such as this would have been used both for aesthetic pleasure and as a commercial representation of the bulbs being exchanged, explaining the great number of tulip still-lifes in the first quarter of the 17th century.