The historically accepted account of "Tulipomania" is presented in Charles Mackay's 19th century work Extraordinary Popular Delusions . Here are three short excerpts covering the start, middle and end of the speculation.
Hans Gillisz. Bollongier, Stilleven met Bloeme , 1639
Some modern scholars dispute the validity of the tulip bubble and the truthfulness of the accounts of widespread financial misery across class lines. Bollongier's painting is held up as proof of Tulipomania because of the allegorical connotations of the arrangement and the timing of the work. It was painted two years after the tulip market collapsed.
The artist's symbolism would have been obvious to the contemporary viewer. The flowers chosen for the arrangement are an unnatural mix of roses, carnations, anemones, and tulips. The first three are associated with the Virgin Mary, the crucifixion, sorrow, and death. Tulips had no place in religious symbolism, instead representing wealth, fame, and nobility.
Their positions in the vase are also significant. The highest flower in an arrangement is the one of greatest perceived value. The roses, carnations, and anemones are given low status, the carnations drooping with their faces turned away. The tulips crowd the top of the arrangement, standing tall.
Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Tulip Folly , 1882