Broadside sheet from the set “Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid,” 1720-1721.
The British Museum holds an impression [inv. 1868,0808.9666] of the same print with the following detailed description:
“Satire on the financial crisis in 1720. An elaborate merry-go-round is set on a sea-shore; its entrance controlled, at lower left, by Bombario, sitting with his mother beneath a tent apparently selling coffee and holding ropes to open and close a grating that forms the gateway to the railed enclosure. The road approaching the gate is labelled “weg des verderfs (way to destruction) and is strewn with fish-hooks. Beside the gate a well-dressed man (John Law or the Duke of Orleans?) sits on a treasure chest against which lean bags of money, one with a fleur-de-lis (French); he holds a scepter topped with a fleur-de-lis in his right hand, gesturing towards the gate, and extends his left hand to receive a bag of money from an eager investor. Behind the chest, stands Folly, a woman with a fool’s-cap and patches on her face and bosom. Other investors approach from the right, including a particularly rich man accompanied by a porter pushing a barrow full of money-bags; a man approaches him offering South Sea shares. An enthusiastic investor enters the enclosure under an elaborate arch from which an ape drops a fool’s-cap on his head. The merry-go-round is supported on a frame with six pillars and a central post. The central post is surmounted by the figure of Fortune dropping snakes and fool’s-caps while each pillar carries a figure connected with a share scheme: a Dutch farmer representing the Hoorn carrot project; a young woman dressed only in a fishing net adorned with fish and holding an oar labelled “zuyt” (South Sea Scheme); a native American representing the Mississippi scheme holding a bundle of tobacco leaves; a black man smoking a pipe representing the West Indian trade; the other two face away and are unidentified. The merry-go-round is driven by a devil on horseback. Each of the four gondolas corresponds with a share scheme, its riders clutching at shares dropped from above until, reaching the exit on the right, some fall to the ground and make their way out to join a throng of speculators. This crowd, pushing forward waving share certificates, includes bearded Jews and artisans; in the foreground, a man tries to cut his throat while another attempts to stop him; a Jew has fallen and a man reaches towards him as his own wife and daughter attempt to restrain him. Beyond this crowd, another rushes towards a boat flying the flag of “Peper landia” (the Spice Islands) which prepares to set off towards a large East Indiaman at anchor in the bay. In the background to left, is the town of Viaanen, towards which coaches speed.”
Titled above: “Des Waerelds doen en doolen, is maar een MALLEMOOLEN”.
Dutch poem in four columns below the representation, signed by Philadelphus, the nome de plume of Gysbert Tyssens (1693-1732) who also wrote six plays concerning the “Wind Trade.”
Etching on paper, printed on two joined sheets; plate mark: 315 x 438 mm, total: 360 x 496 mm; foxing affecting especially the verso and the margins, small tear on the top margin, where the sheets are joined, some staining in the sky; charming impression. Atlas van Stolk 3493-38.
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