English colored engraving of "An Exact Representation of Mr. Lunardi's Grand Air Balloon Ascending from the Artillery Ground, London, Sept. 15, 1784." in ink on paper. On September 15, 1784, Vincenzo Lunardi, an attache in the Neopolitan Embassy in London, made the first successful balloon ascent (containing hydrogen rather than hot air) in England from Moorsfield (in the city of London) to Ware, Hertfordshire. His experiment exceeded the work of Joseph Michel Montgolfier (1740-1810) and his brother Jacques Etienne (1745-1799) of France, who were accredited with the invention of the first sucessful hot air balloon, made of paper and linen, which was raised on June 4, 1793. Horace Walpole wrote of Lunardi's balloon ascent: "Do not wonder that we do not entirely attend to things of earth: fashion has ascended to a higher element. All our views are directed towards the air. Balloons occupy philosophers, ladies, and everybody". Lunardi made several additional flights in a larger balloon from this area in 1785; and as did Jean-Pierre Blanchard from London in 1785, and these events inspired a barrage of commemorative ceramics, prints, etc. The print shows Lunardi in a redcoat, waving a British flag, as he rises in a square, mesh basket with two paddles, which were suppose to control the flight, carried by a brown and red striped balloon. There is a group of nine figures and a blockhouse in the center background. The small, black, molded frame is original.
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