"Gedenk-boog, ter Begraaf-plaats der Uitgeteerde Actionisten / Arc Memorial Dresse au Lieu de l'Enterrement des Actionistes Consumes", Anon.
Subject: Satire - Stock Trading
Period: 1720 (published)
Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid
Color: Black & White
18.4 x 13.4 inches
46.7 x 34 cm
This satirical engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. This street scene is centered on a large arch featuring five vignettes relating to the incident and a portrait of John Law at center. Below the archway people burn papers and stock shares, while a funeral procession fills the background. The verses below satirize the disastrous Mississippi scheme in Dutch and French. The full sheet with text measures 20.2 x 17.1".
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 price of the Compagnie de la Louisiane d'Occident 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.
A dark impression on a bright sheet with a simple fleur-de-lis watermark, issued folding. There is light soiling along the top and bottom edges of the sheet at left.