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Ulster Museum

Wicked Wit: The work of Mary Darly

Dr Jill Unkel is Curator of Western Collections at the Chester Beatty Library Dublin. She curated Wicked Wit: Darly’s Comic Prints and in this talk will explore Mary Darly’s work, one half of the husband and wife team.

- , Sun 10 Jun 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.

February 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act which marks the first milestone in the journey of women’s suffrage, the right to vote in political elections.

To mark the year National Museums NI will be highlighting the women in our collections through exhibitions and events.

Visit our Wicked Wit exhibition page.

Image: The Female Connoisseur 
Darly’s Comic Prints, Vol. II
1772, London
CBL Wep 0182, pl. 7/2
The Female Connoisseur Darly’s Comic Prints, Vol. II 1772, London CBL Wep 0182, pl. 7/2
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