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A group of twelve late 18th century satirical prints of women and their wigs, eight by M.Darly and four associated.

A group of twelve late 18th century satirical prints of women and their wigs, eight by M.Darly and four associated.
All in 18th century English Hogarth frames.

English, circa 1776
Mary and Matthew Darly were English print sellers and caricaturists during the 1770s. Mary Darly (1756-1779) was a print seller, caricaturist, artist, engraver, writer, and teacher. She wrote, illustrated, and published the first book on caricature drawing, A Book of Caricaturas (c. 1762), aimed at "young gentlemen and ladies." Mary was the wife of Matthew Darly, also called Matthias (1741-1778), a London print seller, furniture designer, and engraver. Mary was evidently the second wife of Matthew; his first was named Elizabeth Harold.

Matthew Darly
During the first part of his career, Matthew Darly moved from one part of the Strand to theother, but he always called his shops the "Acorn" or the "Golden Acorn." He may have begun his career as an architect but then moved into furniture designs and caricature, and soon acquired fame. It was written of Richard Cosway that "so ridiculously foppish did he become that Matth. Darly the famous caricature print seller introduced an etching of him in his window in the Strand as the ‘Macaroni Miniature Painter.’"

Darly not only issued political caricatures, but designed ceilings, chimney pieces, mirror frames, girandoles, decorative panels and other furnishing accessories, He engravings many of Thomas Chippendale's designs for The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director (plates dated 1753 and 1754, and plates in the second edition, 1762), and sold his own productions over the counter. The first publication which can be attributed to him with certainty is a colored caricature, The Cricket Players of Europe (1741). In 1754, with a partner, Edwards, he issued A New Book of Chinese Designs, which was intended to minister to the passing craze for furniture and household decorations in the fanciful chinoiserie style, and also included some Rococo whimsical chairs and tables to be made out of gnarled roots. It was in this year that he engraved many of the plates for Chippendale's Director. A New Book of Ceilings followed in 1760. He published from many addresses, most of them in the Strand or its immediate neighbourhood, and his shop was for a long period perhaps the most important of its kind in London.

Darly was for many years in partnership with a man named Edwards, and together they published many political prints, which were originally issued separately and collected annually into volumes under the title of Political and Satirical History. Darly was a member both of the Incorporated Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists, forerunners and unsuccessful rivals of the Royal Academy, and to their exhibitions he contributed many architectural drawings, together with a profile etching of himself (1775). Upon one of these etchings, published from 39 Strand, he is described as Professor of Ornament to the Academy of Great Britain.

Darly's most important publication his chief claim to being credited as an architect was The Ornamental Architect or Young Artist's Instructor consisting of the Five Orders drawn with their Embellishments(1770-1771), a title which was changed in the edition of 1773 to A Complete Body of Architecture, embellished with a great Variety of Ornaments. He also issued Sixty Vases by English, French and Italian Masters (1767). In addition to his immense mass of other productions Darly executed many book plates, illustrated various books and cabinet-makers' catalogues, and gave lessons in etching.

His skill as a caricaturist brought him into close personal relations with the politicians of his time, and in 1763 he was instrumental in saving John Wilkes, whose partisan he was, from death at the hands of James Dunn, who had determined to kill him. Darly, who described himself as Liveryman and block maker, issued his last caricature in October 1780, and as his shop, No. 39 Strand, was let to a new tenant in the following year, it is to be presumed that he had by that time died, or become incapable of further work.
The Darlys
By 1756, the husband-and-wife team had print shops in Fleet Street and the Strand. Mary was the sole manager of the branch at "The Acorn, Ryders Court (Cranbourne Alley), Leicester Fields." Mary advertised in the daily papers in her own name as "etcher and publisher. She was one of the first professional caricaturists in England.

The Darlys’ shops, some of the first to specialize in caricature, initially concentrated on political themes in the 1750s, at a time of political crises, but then focused on world of fashion.] "They seem to have been shrewd business people, changing their output in response to the fashion of the day." Their etchings and engravings included "Wigs" (12 October 1773), "The Preposterous Head Dress, or the Featherd Lady" (20 March 1776), "Phaetona or Modern Female Taste" (6 November 1776); "Miss Shuttle-Cock" (6 December 1776); and "Oh. Heigh. Oh. Or a View of the Back Settlements" (9 July 1776), a play on words that refers to Ohio Territory.

The Darlys also offered drawing lessons to upper-class men and women.

The Darlys relocated their shop from Fleet Street to the West End as the craze for caricatures grew. At their West End shop, they published between 1771 and 1773 six sets of satirical "macaroni" prints, each set containing 24 portraits. The new Darly shop became known as "The Macaroni Print-Shop.Matthew and Mary Darly fuelled a rage for caricatures in London, producing many prints on social life, such as those lampooning the so-called "macaronis."
During the 1770s, the Darlys sold a variety of prints at a wide range of prices and to customers from various social classes. Their prints included depictions of prostitutes, market vendors, maidservants, and other women of the age.
They also engraved the drawings of others. The Darlys advertised that "Ladies to whom the fumes of the Aqua Fortis are Noxious may have their Plates carefully Bit, and proved, and may be attended at their own Houses, and have ev’ry necessary instruction in any part of Engraving, Etching, Dry Needle, Metzotinto, etc…

The Darlys advertised for amateurs to submit sketches for publication.They held an exhibition of amateur prints, such as of "several laughable Subjects, droll Figures, and sundry Characters."
The furniture-makers Ince and Mayhew employed Matthew Darly as an engraver. William Austin was a rival of the Darlys.
The Darlys were responsible for bringing Henry Burberry's talents as a humorous caricaturist to public attention by publishing his work, and Anthony Pasquin had studied in the earlier part of his career at Matthew Darly’s studio

There was a small engraved portrait of Mary Darly in the Print Room of the British Museum; it is called "The Female Connoisseur" (February 1772). She is depicted examining a caricature sketch.

Modern Enigmas By A High Headed Sphynx
Published 1st April 1776. M.Daly
Height: 16 ½ in; 42 cm
Width: 21 ¾ in; 55 cm

Chloes Cushions Or the Cork Rump
Published 1st January 1777
Height: 21 ¾ in; 21 ¾ in
Width: 17 in; 43 cm

Phaetona or modern female taste
Published 6th November 1776
Height: 16 ¼ in; 41 cm
Width: 12 ¾ in; 32 cm

The Extravaganza or The Mountain Head-dress
Published 10th April 1776
Height: 20 ½ in; 52 cm
Width: 16 ¼ in; 41cm

The Flower Garden
Published 1st May 1776
Height: 22 ¾ in; 58 cm
Width: 15 ½ in; 37 cm

Miss Shuttle-Cock
Published 6th December 1776
Height: 16 ¼ in; 41 cm
Width: 12 ¾ in; 32 cm

The Preposterous Head Dress
Published 20th March 1776
Height: 18 ½ in; 47 cm
Width: 13 ¾ in; 35 cm

Oh Heigh Oh
Published 9th July 1776
Height: 19 in; 48 cm
Width: 14 ½ in; 37 cm

It’s the new mode
Height: 15 ½ in; 39 cm
Width: 11 ½ in; 29 cm

La Reine de Siam
Height: 16 ½ in; 42 cm
Width: 12 ¼ in; 31 cm

Hey-Day is this my daughter Anne
Height: 33 ½ in; 57 cm
Width: 17 ½ in; 44 cm

Reference: 3970

Price: £22,500

Several of our prints are in the collection of the British museum including "Miss Shuttlecock"

For more information or to arrange a viewing at Langton Street.
Call: 0207 351 5399

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