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Image of The Fluttering Macaroni

The Fluttering Macaroni

  • The Fluttering Macaroni
  • Etching by Matthew Darly
  • Published by Mary Darly 1772
  • 164 x 227mm (6½ x 9in)

Macaronis in 18th century England were ultra-fashionable young men notable for their excessively extravagant outfits which were influenced by their sojourn to France and Italy on the Grand Tour. They affected long curls and exaggerated wigs, dainty attire consisting of tight breeches, close-cut jacket, flamboyant shoes and striped stockings.

In this etching the diminutive figure of the finely-dressed macaroni is perched upon the fingertips of a handsome young woman as if he were a delicate butterfly about to spread his wings. The print is a satire on the relationship of the two characters who are said to be Miss Ann Catley, a celebrated actress and singer, and a young nobleman, the Earl of Ancrum. Perhaps "the little, foolish fluttering thing" is being held up as an object of ridicule for now he is the plaything of another, for whom meaning can only be found in servitude.

London's print-shop window displays ensured that satirical prints were widely seen and could be purchased by those that could afford them. The publisher and illustrator of this print were husband and wife, Mary and Matthew Darly, together they ran a print-shop at 39 Strand, London.



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