Unattributed. “The Optical-Contrast.” From “The Macaroni Print Shop” publications.
London: Matthew and Mary Darly, January 16, 1772. Engraving. 6 1/8 x 9 1/2. Original hand coloring. Very good condition. Framed to archival specifications. A/A
Working in partnership, Matthew and Mary Darly published caricatures by amateur artists in a small folio format. These were sold as separate prints for a public that had grown tired of classical allegories, and these prints attained great popularity. The Darlys not only published these caricatures, but they instructed in the arts as well. Their open approach to a wide range of subjects and artists fostered the popularity of the light-hearted genre of parody. The exaggerated fashions and manners of the gentry returning from the ‘Grand Tour’ of the European continent became one of the favorite themes for these prints. The Darlys are credited with the first post-card, developed to allow their students’ works to be delivered by the mail system.
This print satirizes changing fashions, as the stylish young “macaroni” at left peers at an older man at right who wears the outmoded plainer clothes of the mid-18th century. The macaroni uses a monocle; the old man, a small telescope, further pointing up the different optical technologies of their respective periods. Optics indeed!