Aeronautic Experiment Made at Versailles on September 19, 1783

Anonymous, German, 18th century German

Not on view

The first aerial passengers were not humans, but a sheep, a cock and a duck. Suspended in a basket from a Montgolfier hot air balloon, they took off from the courtyard of the palace at Versailles on September 19, 1783, watched by the French royal family and a crowd of over 100,000 spectators. The text below this image describes the balloon as blue (not pink as it shown in the print) and mentions that the flight lasted eight minutes. None of the animals were disturbed by the experience, although the cock sustained an injury to its wing as the result of a kick by the excited sheep, prior to departure. The success of the experiment soon led to manned balloon flights. Like its companion, this print was a "vue d'optique," or perspective view, meant to be looked at through a convex lens and mirrored device that strengthened the illusion of depth and reversed the composition.

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