These characters and caricatures reflect the humour of Georgian society in the 1770s, poking fun, in particular, of the ridiculous dress of young men and women. The ostentatious and ever-increasing heights of women’s coiffures were embellished for comic effect, while their male counterparts were derided as macaronies. The term was derived from the Italian pasta and became popular in the 1760s and 1770s to describe young men recently returned from the Grand Tour who brought back an exaggerated version of Continental dress.
From the time of their marriage, they worked in tandem designing, engraving, publishing, and marketing a variety of art works. At the height of their fame, carriages lined the streets so their occupants could titter at the images on display in Darly’s Comic Exhibitions, held every spring from 1773 to 1778. By the end of the decade, they had become so popular that their publications were available throughout Great Britain and Ireland, Europe and even America. The exhibition, which is on loan from the Chester Beatty Library, is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue by curator Jill Unkel.