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Saturday, 17 October 2020

Unidentified printmaker’s etching after Bernard Picart’s “Monument in memory of the folly of the year 1720”, c1720

Unidentified printmaker from the circle of Bernard Picart (1673–1733)

“Monument in memory of the folly of the year 1720” (aka “Monument consacré a la posterité en memoire de la folie incroyable de la XX. année du XVIII. Siècle”; “A monument dedicated to posterity in commemoration of the incredible folly transacted in the year 1720”), c1720, after the etching of Bernard Picart from the series, “The Great Scene of Folly” (aka “Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid”). The subject of this print is a satire about the South Sea/Mississippi Bubble—a crazy time of speculation that bankrupted many when stocks in crazy schemes collapsed in 1720, such as a purported scheme to develop a gun that could fire square cannon balls! Note that on the right of the composition is what I understand to be the coffee house of the financier John Law (aka Jean Law) (1671–1729) whose Mississippi scheme stock skyrocketed by 3000% before crashing disastrously. The riotous procession on the street outside his shop is led by a jester in a cart pulled by representatives of the Mississippi company (including a disabled Indian), with Fortuna—the personification of fortune—spreading investment stocks and snakes blown by a demon in the clouds above her.

Etching and engraving on laid paper with a narrow margin around the platemark and backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 28.5 x 37.6 cm; (plate) 27.5 x 36.5 cm; (outer image borderline) 21.2 x 35.2 cm.

Condition: a well-printed impression with narrow margins and laid onto a support of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. There are tears on the left side and a small replenished loss also on the left. Beyond these issues, the sheet is in a reasonably clean condition with no significant stains or foxing.  

I am selling this curiously wonderful broadsheet satirising the disastrous share crash of 1720 for AU$306 (currently US$216.62/EUR184.71/GBP198.18 at the time of this listing) including Express Mail (EMS) postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested this fascinating etching allegorically documenting the calamitous event of speculative trading known in England as the “South Sea Bubble” and in France as the “Mississippi Bubble”, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.











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