TULIP FEVER

  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house,
    17th century Amsterdam…

    Set Decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA tells us about the creation of these 17th century sets...

    Each object and piece of furniture was chosen very carefully because the sets were authentically minimal. So every piece, big or small was very important.

    Alicia Vikander.
    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house,
    17th century Amsterdam…

    A lot time was spent researching the methods and materials used by all the Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Frans Hals,
    Jan Steen and Vermeer...


    Dane DeHaan.
    Photo by Alex Bailey


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house,
    17th century Amsterdam…

    The walls were designed, moulded and painted to look like leather emboss work. They gave a richness and depth to each shot...

    Dane DeHaan
    Alicia Vikander
    Photo by Alex Bailey


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    Production Designer
    Simon Elliott worked closely with the DOP to give him lots of opportunity to create beautiful shafts through the leaded windows...


    Dane DeHaan as artist
    Jan Van Loos,
    Christoph Waltz as Cornelis Sandvoort
    Alicia Vikander as his wife Sophia
    Photo by Alex Bailey


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    Simon and I had many meetings with
    Costume Designer
    Michael O’Connor to talk about the color palette and fabrics I was going to use.
    I had worked with
    Michael previously on
    THE DUCHESS. He has a fantastic eye for detail and color which always complemented the sets...


    Christoph Waltz
    Alicia Vikander
    Photo by Alex Bailey


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    The main hero portrait was painted by Royal Academy artist Jamie Routley...the actors had several sittings with him.
    All the other paintings were carefully selected from an archive, printed and painted especially for us. It was a long process and every painting had its place before I commissioned it.


    Photo by Alex Bailey


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    The plates, vases and all the crockery were made by a local pottery company who specialized in 17th c. pieces and still used the same techniques. I sent them designs and they painted them all by hand...

    Christoph Waltz
    Alicia Vikander
    Photo by Alex Bailey


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    The walls to the main set were a gold leather embossed pattern, designed especially for this wealthy merchant’s house. The walls set the tone for the rest of the decoration, which was dressed with opulent 17th c. Dutch furniture from auction houses.
    Lots of research went into the Dutch dinner table and food of that time. We had a fantastic food stylist to re-create authentic dishes.


    Christoph Waltz


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    The main set was a two-story house built at Pinewood. The design and layout were exactly as a Dutch house in the 1600s would have been, but with more space to shoot some beautiful angles. The walls were decorated with tapestries I designed and had made, based on an old 17th century pattern. They were printed and then aged...

    Alicia Vikander


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    When considering the set decoration, 17th century Dutch painters were a big source of inspiration, like Vermeer and the darker palettes of Pieter de Hooch and Gabriel Metsu...

    Alicia Vikander
    ©2014


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    A clearer view of the previous room...

    The walls were designed and printed on cloth for authenticity.
    The furniture was found through antique fairs and auctions houses throughout Europe...


    Photo ©2014 TWC


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    Closer view of the room's details...

    A lot of time went into researching and reading around this period in order to make informed and creative decisions...

    Again, we see the deep collaboration between PD, SD, CD and DOP!

    Alicia Vikander


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    The designer and I were very keen that the sets had a very authentic period Dutch feel, so most of the furniture was purchased at auction houses like Christies and through Dutch dealers, rather than hiring from the prop houses...

    Editor's note: And as the film world goes, when the film wrapped, these carefully researched pieces that Alleway and her team had sourced
    then went to prop houses who now rent them out for other period films!


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    Simon designed and built a house that flowed from one room to another. It had a period staircase that led to the bedrooms on the second floor and set around fully dressed courtyard. The actors could walk from one fully dressed room into another and would completely forget they were on a set at Pinewood. It was built and dressed before filming started and stood for the whole shoot...

    Holliday Gainger
    Jack O’Connell
    Photo/Alex Bailey ©2014TWC



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    Again, I took lots of inspiration from the Dutch masters like Rembrandt when I was putting ideas together for the kitchen. I tried to re-create the Dutch scenes depicted in the paintings. It was very important that when we dressed the set, it felt as realistic as possible with every element of Dutch life included...

    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    This was a typical kitchen in Holland, where the servants would live, sleep and cook for the household...A lot of time was spent ageing fabrics and furniture for this set.

    Holliday Gainger
    Photo ©2014TWC



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    The important thing about the kitchen was the layers and making sense of each area, so it also had a practical purpose.

    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Sandvoort house…
    We had live chickens for the kitchen cupboard!
    Most of the vessels and pots were accurate to those used in a 17th c. kitchen and were collected over months from antique fairs.


    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Artist’s studio…
    This is where the artist Jan lived and worked. The set was dressed with a view that every angle would offer an interesting frame, with depth and style.

    Christoph Waltz
    Alicia Vikander
    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Jan’s art studio…
    The artist’s studio was dressed over a period of days. More layers and details were added over time to add depth of character...

    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Jan’s artist studio…
    Months were spent hunting at antique fairs and auctions, to collect all the 17th c. artist materials needed to make this set...

    Dane DeHaan.
    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company





  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Jan’s art studio…
    An artist was commissioned to make all the drawings seen in this set. It was a long process over months to ensure the drawings were beautiful and true to the style of a 17th c. painter.

    Photo ©2014 The Weinstein Company


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Jan’s studio…
    We had to prepare many different canvases, for all the stages the artist would go through.

    Dane DeHaan.
    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Jan’s artist' studio…
    When dressing each set,
    I always had a Dutch painting or still life in mind...


    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Apothecary shop…
    The Apothecary was a huge part of 17th c. life...they sold medicine, herbs and the natural pigments needed for painting...

    Tom Hollander
    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Shrine…
    We designed, built and dressed this tulip bulb shrine on location at Norwich Cathedral, which served as our cloisters. Each bulb was carefully labeled with a hand-written owner’s label.

    Editor’s note: The selling of promissory notes from these owner’s labels for bulbs not yet grown but to come in the upcoming season became the first “futures market” sales...

    Photo ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Tulip trading tavern …
    The tavern was also built at Pinewood. We only shot on location only a few times on this film and we took over most of the stages at Pinewood to house all the many sets. The big advantage of building and dressing all the sets at the studio was that we could fix and hang anything we wanted to do. There were no restrictions a period location might have. The other big advantage was the director could get great top shots and wide angles...

    Photo by Alex Bailey
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Tulip trading tavern…
    A lot of the wooden screens and panels used to create depth and light were sourced from architectural salvage companies.

    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Tulip trading tavern…
    The back wall was painted with a huge Dutch fresco. For this scene, we used thousands of candles to create the dense and intoxicating atmosphere. This was the centre of the tulip trading...

    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Tulip trading tavern…
    The Art department sourced a large 17th c. barn which was dismantled and rebuilt on the stage at Pinewood, beam by beam. A big job for the construction team, but the end result was spectacular. All the panels and the rest of the interior were designed around the 17th c. structure.

    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Amsterdam canal…
    Simon did an amazing job of re-creating a 17th Century Dutch canal. He very cleverly designed a street and canal by building up, rather than digging down...

    ©2014 The Weinstein Company


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Amsterdam canal…
    The canal build was an impressive 250 ft in length....

    ©2014 The Weinstein Company



  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    17th c. Amsterdam canal…
    The final canal was a huge dress and took many attic trucks of dressing to cover all areas and angles.

    ©2014 The Weinstein Company


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    17th c. Amsterdam canal…
    Many months of prop making were involved in reproducing all the props and vessels used for the traders, merchants...

    Editor's note: This is not a painting, this is an active scene on a small section of the built canal set!
    ©2014 The Weinstein Company


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Amsterdam canal…
    Each section of the canal and street was planned in small detail, so that all the merchants and stall holders had very particular jobs. I tried to make it look and feel like 17th c. Amsterdam and tried very hard to steer it away from it looking like a British period drama.

    ©2014 The Weinstein Company


  • set decorator
    Rebecca Alleway SDSA

    production designer
    Simon Elliott




    Amsterdam convent…
    The tulip gardens were shot at Norwich Cathedral. We spent a month excavating and planting a garden in the middle of the Cathedral grounds. This was one of the first jobs to organize when I started the film. We had tulip growers from different parts of Holland growing different species of flowers for us. The tulip dealers had to keep the bulbs in special fridges, so they would only grow when we needed them. The actual tulip season is short and our film schedule was much longer.
    Dame Judi Dench


 
In 17th century Amsterdam, an orphaned girl [Alicia Vikander] is married to a rich and powerful merchant [Christoph Waltz] – an arrangement that saves her from poverty and offers him the possibility of an heir. After her husband commissions a portrait, she begins a passionate affair with the painter [Dane DeHaan], a struggling young artist. The lovers enter the frenzied tulip bulb market, risking everything with the hope that the right bulb will make a fortune and buy their freedom. –The Weinstein Company

With care and deep exactitude, Production Designer Simon Elliott, Set Decorator Rebecca Alleway SDSA and their teams created sets that seem to bring the paintings of Vermeer, Rembrandt and other Dutch masters of the 17th century to life in a juxtaposition of fine details and simplicity, quiet interiors and busy markets, cloisters and raucous taverns, kitchen garden and busy canal, artist’s studio and apothecary’s herb-filled shop, color and contrast.

Actor Christoph Waltz notes, “The past few years, I’ve developed a deep interest in Dutch and Flemish art of the 16th and 17th century. The art is beautiful and the paintings express not just what they show – they express what’s behind what we see. They express a whole world, a whole era of civilization and humankind and spirit. That’s why they are masters to a degree that is immense. You really feel, even if you don’t quite fathom the depth of the painting, that there is something that you have to live up to. The challenge of looking at art from that period, or of great art altogether, is really that you have to widen your horizon. You are required to rise to the occasion and that effort is immensely gratifying.”
 
Above, Alleway graciously takes us through a photo gallery of the sets and lets us step behind the scenes into the creation of that world...
 
 
 
 
 


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