Ulster Museum

Wicked Wit: Darly’s Comic Prints

Wicked Wit: Darly’s Comic Prints features over 100 hand-coloured comic prints produced in London by the husband and wife team of Mary and Matthew Darly.

Fri 30 Mar 2018 - Sun 23 Sep 2018

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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.

Image: The ridiculous taste, or the ladies absurdity
Mary & Matthew Darly
Darly’s Comic Prints
1776, London
© CBL  Wep 0494.34
The ridiculous taste, or the ladies absurdity Mary & Matthew Darly Darly’s Comic Prints 1776, London © CBL Wep 0494.34
Image: The Macaroni Print Shop
Mary & Matthew Darly
After Edward Topham (1751-1820)
Darly’s Comic Prints
1772, London
CBL Wep 0494.33
The Macaroni Print Shop Mary & Matthew Darly After Edward Topham (1751-1820) Darly’s Comic Prints 1772, London CBL Wep 0494.33