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John Law / Mississippi Bubble

This engraving depicts the infamous Mississippi Bubble, a monumental financial collapse spearheaded by John Law. In the image, Law is shown on the left, pouring money from a cornucopia into a chest, while a "grieving stockholder" stands center under a banner held by balloons labeled "west" and "south," stating, "Law has the money, there is nothing left for us." To the right, a harpy and a clown mockingly break wind on a globe resembling a Sovereign's Orb. Beneath the scene, three columns of Dutch verse encapsulate the debacle.

John Law, a Scottish financier, founded the Banque Generale in France and was granted control over Louisiana, establishing the Compagnie de la Louisiane d'Occident in 1717. His ambitious scheme to harness the vast resources of the region led to a frenzied investment across Europe, including ventures like the English South Sea Company and various Dutch entities. The speculative bubble peaked in 1720, then disastrously burst, leading to widespread financial ruin and eroding confidence in similar enterprises across the continent. 

The print appeared in "Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid, vertoonende de opkomst, voortgang en ondergang der Actie, Bubbel en Windnegotie, in Vrankryk, Engeland, en de Nederlanden, gepleegt in den Jaare MDCCXX," published in Amsterdam in 1720. This collection, known as The Great Mirror of Folly, satirizes John Law, his Mississippi Company, and the catastrophic South Sea Bubble of 1719-1720, which incited widespread financial turmoil.