'The Descent of the Air Balloon', 19 September 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving for the 'European Magazine' showing a Montgolfier balloon landing in a field to the bewilderment of local people. Joseph Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Etienne (1745-1799) Montgolfier were amongst the first to succesfully exploit the idea of the hot-air balloon. The event depicted took place on 19 September 1783. The balloon, named 'Le Martial', was set adrift from the Palace of Versailles, France, carrying a sheep, a cock and a duck in an attempt to investigate the effect of flying on living creatures. The balloon remained airborne for eight minutes before descending near the Forest of Vaucreson one and a half miles away. The animals, which were caged in a basket suspended from the balloon, landed safely. Published by J Fielding, 1 December 1783.