Catalog Archive
Auction 179, Lot 829

"Bombario, o dood, gy waart geen Vrind van Law toen gy Paus Clemens Schoot", Anon.

Subject: Satire - Stock Trading

Period: 1720 (circa)

Publication: Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid…

Color: Black & White

10.8 x 10.6 inches
27.4 x 26.9 cm
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This engraving is from the important account of one the most infamous financial meltdowns in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble incident. At the center of this engraved view is Robert Knight, a cashier of the South Sea Company who is ushered forward by two satyrs to view a painting. The "Roman painting" is presented by Father Time, who pushes aside a curtain to reveal Pope Clement XI on his deathbed. John Law and the Old Pretender stand in front of the bed, holding strings attached to the sails of a windmill on the canopy of the bed, which also features the French cock, the Imperial eagle and the lion of the Netherlands. At the head of the bed the future Innocent XIII reaches for the papal tiara held by a group of cardinals, and Innocent XIII's portrait hangs above with images of an angel and devil on his shoulders. There are three columns of verses in Dutch below the scene. With text the engraving measures 10.4 x 10.7".

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 crisp impression with wide margins. There is minor toning, a few tiny tears, and some soiling all confined to the edges of the sheet.

Estimate: $80 - $95

Sold for: $50

Closed on 9/16/2020