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The map of an island in the form of a fool's head; representing the Dutch financial crisis of 1720. Etching, 1720.

Part of
Groote tafereel der dwaasheid.
  • Pictures

About this work


In the centre, the head of a man with a fool's cap, in profile to right. The head is marked like a map with geographical locations, some of them actual places in which rash financial speculation was rife (rivers Seine and Thames), others allegorical (Poverty, Melancholy, Despair, Madhouse, Windcity etc.). Above, a cartouche "'t wapen van dit eyland 1720", with an engraving of winds. Behind, a vast tomb

Top left and right, two vignettes: on the left a man discovering that his treasure chest is empty and bewailing his loss; on the right, the man begging on the street and saying "I cannot live on wind". Below each scene is a festoon composed not of soothing plants but of painful things: holly, birch branches, a scourge, a scorpion, a snake, a curry-comb

Middle row, medallions containing (left) an owl with motto "Ik bemin de duysternis" (I love the darkness) and right a lynx with motto "By nacht soek ik myn fortuyn" (By night I seek my fortune)

Bottom left and right, two scenes. On the left, the English coffee house in Amsterdam (inscribed "Engelse kof. huys") with its windows and door smashed and a crowd gathered outside; above, a cartouche "Quinquempoix beplystert ("Quinquenpoix plastered"?). On the right a man fleeing in a land-yacht to Vianen (flag on aft inscribed "na Viane[n]), flag on prow bears coat of arms of Vianen), a place of refuge for bankrupts. Above, a cartouche "Vlug der inwoonde van 't eilant Geks Kop" (Flight of the inhabitants of the island of Madman's Head)


[Amsterdam] : [publisher not identified], [1720?]

Physical description

2 prints : etching, with engraving ; platemark of upper print 16.2 x 23.2 cm ; platemark of lower print 13.2 x 23.2 cm


Afbeeldinge van 't zeer vermaarde eiland geks-kop. Gelegen in de Actie-zé, ontdekt door Monsr Lau-rens, werdende bewoond door een verzameling van alderhande volkeren, die men déze generále naam (Actionisten) geeft.

References note

Frederik Muller, De nederlandsche geschiedenis in platen. Beredeneerde beschrijving van nederlandsche historieplaten, zinneprenten en historische kaarten, Amsterdam 1863, part 2, no. 3592 (57)
British Museum, Catalogue of political and personal satires, vol. 2, London 1978, no. 1682
Arthur H. Cole, The great mirror of folly (Het groote tafereel der dwaasheid). An economic-bibliographical study, Boston 1949, no. 57
Frans De Bruyn, 'Reading Het groote tafereel der dwaasheid: an emblem book of the folly of speculation in the bubble year 1720', Eighteenth-century life, 2000, 24: 1-42, p. 39, n. 30

Lettering note

Translation of lettering: "Depiction of the very renowned island Madman's Head situated in the Sea of Shares, discovered by Monsieur Law-rence, inhabited by a collection of all sorts of peoples, who are given this general name: shareholders." Below the image, Dutch verses engraved in two columns


Wellcome Library no. 814545i


  • Dutch

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