'Miolan and Janninet's aerostatic Machine', 1784.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Etching. French abbots Miolan and Janninet became a subject of national ridicule for their failed balloon ascent from the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris on Sunday 11 July, 1784. The pair sold tickets to the event and crowds had gathered from six in the morning to observe the spectacle of balloon flight. However, by five in the afternoon the balloon had still not risen from the ground and the crowd became impatient. An angry mob attacked the balloon, tearing it to shreds and setting it alight. The two abbots escaped unharmed, but the damage to their reputations was irreparable, and numerous lampoons and caricatures of the pair emerged shortly after. Dimensions: 310mm x 325mm.