I planted two varieties of tulip this fall, Tulipa acuminata and Tulipa 'Elegans Rubra', both historic lily-flowered - or even dagger-petaled - varieties of uncertain origin. They are supposedly about as close to the Istanbul tulips popular in the Ottoman Empire during the 18th century as any tulips available today. Maybe they are even survivors from that very age, as postulated in the Old House Gardens catalog. Based on the pictures available online, both do look quite a bit like some of the tulips featured in an Ottoman florilegium known as the Lale Mecmuası or "Tulip Album". 'Rubra Elegans', for instance, seems to come quite close to this beauty:
It would be wonderful if by some happy accident some of these historic varieties, all presumed lost, were in fact recovered somewhere. If they were half as pretty in real life as their painted representations than as far as I am concerned they would really give most modern tulip cultivars a run for their money.