The early days of ballooning and the art which it produced

The early days of ballooning and the art which it produced.

Apart from the illustrations, which were largely reproduced in newspapers of the time, one artist stood out: Julius Caesar Ibbetson, so called because he was born by caesarian section, 1759-1817.
The Montgolfier brothers, and Sophie Blanchard, a woman balloonist, who was killed on a flight in 1819, were also discussed.


Julius Caesar Ibbetson, George Biggins’ Ascent in Lunardi’s Balloon, 1785, oil on canvas, 51 x 61 cm, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany


Julius Caesar Ibbetson, Bella Ibbetson (née Thompson), 1803, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK


Julius Caesar Ibbetson, Self Portrait, 1804, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK



At Annonay 4 June 1783,  the Montgolfiers brothers gave the first demonstration of a public flight (centre). The flight covered 2 km, lasted 10 minutes, and had an estimated altitude of 1,600-2,000 m.

Ascension du Sieur a la Citadelle de Strasbourg, 1784 (right). Colored etching of a balloon ascending over a city in 1784. Pierre and Degarbiel built and flew this Montgolfier, the first to ascend from Strasbourg, May 26, 1784. The balloon stood 76 feet tall and 160 feet in circumference.

Sophie Blanchard, Ascent from the Champ de Mars, 24 June 1810 (left)

TS, 6 February 2018, Meeting No 10

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