The first successful ascension of the hot-air balloon was achieved by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783. It lasted only ten minutes but was widely celebrated. By the end of the year, the French crown floated a proposed monument. Clodion was one of seven talented sculptors to compete. His airy Rococo flight of fancy-in which putti pile bundles of hay to launch the balloon, guided by Fame and propelled by Aeolus-is difficult to imagine in marble. Gradually, hot-air ballooning spread to the point of being commonplace, and the project was dropped.
Signature: Signed twice, once on top section at lower back and once on bottom section to left of front under brazier: CLODION
Clodion (Claude Michel) (until at least 1792) ; possibly Dumont (until 1793; sale, Paillet, Paris, February 4, 1793, no. 203) ; [ anonymous sale, organized by François Léandre Regnault Delalande Paris, June 6, 1805, no. 190 ] ; F. L. Feuchère père (until d. 1828; sale, January 17–18, 1829, no. 270) ; [ Beurdeley , Paris (by 1862) ] ; [ Jacques Seligmann , Paris ] ; or [ Arnold Seligmann , Paris (before 1911) ] ; George A. Kessler , Paris (probably after 1910 or 1911–d. 1918; sold to François Coty, 1921; François Coty , Paris (1921–36; sale, Galerie Jean Charpentier, Paris, November 30–December 1, 1936, no. 67); Paul Gouvert , Paris (after 1939) ; [ Arnold Seligmann, Rey and Company, New York (until 1944; sold to MMA) ]
Artist: Watchmaker: Daniel Vauchez (French, born 1716, active 1767–90)Date: ca. 1783–84Medium: Case: partly enameled gold set with pearls, gold bezel with diamonds set in silver; Dial: white enamel with openwork brass hands; Movement: brass and steelAccession: 17.190.1587On view in:Not on view