Catalog Archive
Auction 146, Lot 788

"De Vervallen Actionisten, Hersteld, door den Triompheerden Arlequin", Anon.

Subject: Satire - Stock Trading

Period: 1720 (circa)

Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid…

Color: Black & White

13.5 x 9 inches
34.3 x 22.9 cm
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This satirical engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. This engraving illustrates the investors and dealers during the crisis having their losses restored by Harlequin. Harlequin rides in a horse-drawn carriage distributing documents to a crowd of men, with Mercury at right, pointing towards a pile of goods. There are four columns of verses in Dutch below the scene. With text it measures 13.5 x 10.8".

John Law, a Scottish financier, established the Banque Generale (central bank) in France. He was then granted control of Louisiana and founded the Compagnie de la Louisiane d'Occident, in 1717. Law developed an elaborate plan to exploit the fabulous resources of the region, which quickly gained popularity and people rushed to invest, not just in France, but throughout Europe. This resulted in the development of several other overseas companies, such as the English South Sea Company and a number of smaller companies in the Dutch Republic. The share prices rose dramatically in a frenzy of speculation. In 1720 the bubble burst; speculators cashed in, caused a run on the shares, and the company went bankrupt. As a consequence of the failure, confidence in other similar companies failed, and thousands of individual investors across Europe were ruined.


Condition: A

A dark impression with marginal soiling and pencil notations in bottom blank margin.

Estimate: $70 - $90


Closed on 9/4/2013