"Among all our circle of friends," one observer wrote, "at all our meals, in the antechambers of our lovely women, as in the academic schools, all one hears is talk of experiments, atmospheric air, inflammable gas, flying cars, journeys in the sky."
The sculptor Claude Michel, also known as Clodion, designed this magnificent statue to celebrate the advent of ballooning.
Hovering above a round, altar-like base carved with flames, is a hot air balloon. Notice the allegorical images on the statue - the flames and angels.
This wooden snuff box has a painted ceramic lid. The image on the lid is a depiction of Dr. Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert during one of their first manned balloon flights. You will notice, a thoroughly titillated crowed has gathered to witness the spectacle!
Charles and Robert launched the first unmanned hydrogen filled balloon in August of 1783.
On December 1, 1783, the duo stepped into the basket of their balloon and ascended high in the sky above the Tuileries Gardens, thrilling the crowd of spectators (including the clever Benjamin Franklin and the cretinous Duc de Chartres) who had gathered to witness the historic event. They remained aloft for over two hours, eventually landing in Nesles-la-Vallée.