Oh Heigh Oh – 1776 Darly Caricature: A Woman from the Ohio Country

Engraving by Matthew (and Mary?) Darly of a woman’s towering hairstyle seen from the back, and embellished with plumes. Entitled “Oh Heigh Oh – Or a View of the Back Settlements” it is dated July 9, 1776 – just after the American Declaration of Independence.   But at that time, the region known as the Ohio Country was part of New France.  Unlike the thirteen original colonies on the eastern seaboard, the Ohio Country, which encompassed most of today’s Ohio as well as West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, and part of southeastern Indiana, was not fully colonized and was comprised of small frontier outposts engaged in trade with native tribes and natural resources exploitation. It was not until 1783, that the Ohio Country became unorganized U.S. territory under the Treaty of Paris that officially ended the American Revolutionary War

Copies in multiple museums including the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Condition:  Several small spots. Lower right corner of outer sheet (outside of platemark) is missing.
Dimensions: Approx 45 x 27 cm (full sheet)

Mary and Matthew Darly
Mary Darly (1756–1779) - Matthew Darly (1741–1778)
Macaroni Caricatures and Other Works
London, c 1770
Darly Monogram M signature leaving ambiguous whether Mary or Matthew is the author of the works.

Matthew and Mary Darly were a husband wife team famous in the 18th Century for their amusing engravings of the fashionable life of the Rococo period. Their highly popular prints, which became known as “Macaronis” after the expression describing a dandy of the period, can be found today in Museum collections around the world including the British Museum, Victoria and Albert, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Matthew Darly worked with the famous furniture designer Thomas Chippendale and was responsible for engraving most of the illustrations in The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director which presented an array of furnishing styles including the French-inspired ‘modern taste’ which later became known as rococo.  In the 1750s, Matthew Darly worked with the famous natural history illustrator George Edwards in the wallpaper business.  Engaged in the social life and politics of London at this time, Matthew Darly was both an artist and an activist. He ran into legal trouble at one point for his prints mocking the Duke of Cumberland.  He was instrumental in saving the life of John Wilkes ( the British parliamentary reformer and who was supportive of the American war of independence)  who faced a threat of death at the hands of James Dunn.

Mary Darly, a talented artist who was one of Britain’s first professional caricaturists became Matthew’s second wife and business partner. The couple developed a new style of engravings satirizing in exaggerated form the fashionable manners, dress and hairstyles of the 1770s in London and the dandy dressers of the period who were known as “Macaronis.”  The engravings the couple sold in series of copperplate prints in their successful shops in London.  Among their best known engravings are several featured here including “Wigs” (12 October 1773) and  “Oh. Heigh. Oh. Or a View of the Back Settlements” (9 July 1776).