'Mrs Sage', the first English lady balloonist, 1785.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil on canvas by an unknown artist. Mrs Laetitia Sage became the first English woman to fly in a hot air balloon in Vincent Lunardi's ascent of 29 June 1785. Impresed by her beauty, Lunardi asked Mrs Sage to accompany him on his flight. Unfortunately, the combined weight of Mrs Sage and the other two pasengers, George Biggin and Colonel Hastings, was too much for the balloon. Lunardi and Hastings agreed to stay behind, allowing Mrs Sage and Biggin to continue alone. Mrs Sage later published her experience as England's first female aeronaut. She is shown wearing a white fur mantle, hat and half-veil, with a balloon motif in the background. Dimensions (unframed): 770mm x 630mm.