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July 12, 1772
Origin: England, London
OH: 8 3/8" OW: 5 1/4" Plate H: 7" Plate W: 4 7/8"
Black and white line engraving with period hand color
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1954-478
The lower margin reads: "Whipcord del./ The FLY CATCHING MACARONI./ I rove from Pole to Pole, you ask me why,/ I tell you Truth, to catch a ____ Fly./ Pub by M. Darly accor to Act July 1772/39/Strand."
Label:By the end of the 18th century, what had started centuries before as an interest in scientific discovery for a few professors and doctors had become a worldwide phenomenon. The interest in studying the natural world had moved beyond botany laboratories and specialized greenhouses out into the curious eye of the public. The Fly Catching Macaroni pokes fun at the absurdity of traveling the globe in search of small insects.

In particular, this cartoon satirizes the life of Sir Joseph Banks , a British naturalist who served as the president of the Royal Society of London for 41 years. He took part in several well-known expeditions, including Captain James Cook’s first great voyage from 1768 to 1771 that traveled to Brazil, Tahiti, and Australia. Back in London, Banks was a driving force for collecting and propagating seeds at the Royal Botanic Gardens.