Catalog Archive
Auction 168, Lot 3

"D Heer Johan Lauw Raadsheer des Koninks en Controlleur Generaal der Finatien 1720...", Anon.

Subject: Portrait, Mississippi Bubble

Period: 1720 (circa)


Color: Black & White

6.9 x 9.3 inches
17.5 x 23.6 cm

This is a fine portrait of the infamous Scottish financier John Law. Exiled to Europe because of a duel, Law managed to become a financial adviser to the Duke of Orleans. Law proposed the establishment of a state-chartered bank with the power to issue unbacked paper currency, the Banque Generale, which was established in 1716. 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. The financial meltdown became known as the Mississippi Bubble incident.


Condition: B+

A nice impression on watermarked paper with light toning.

Estimate: $140 - $170

Sold for: $70

Closed on 6/6/2018