The Hydrogen Balloon, "The Suffren"


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Hangar Overlook at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

The Hydrogen Balloon, "The Suffren"



Inventory Number


Physical Description

  • Oil painting of the ascension of "The Suffren" hydrogen balloon in an ornate gilded frame. The painting shows the balloon shortly after lift off. The stand used to hold the balloon upright as it is being inflated, and the barrels and tubes used to inflate the balloon are visible in the foreground. A banner identifying the balloon as "Le Suffren" is seen dangling from the gondola.
  • The balloon flew from an orphanage in Nantes under the direction of M. Levesque, a correspondent of the Academy of Science. MM. Coutard de Massy, Father Mouchet, and the Marquis de Luynes made their first flight with the balloon on June 14, 1784. Coutard de Massy and Dolagnes made a second flight in the balloon from Nantes on September 6.
  • The frame is carved in an ornate floral motif. A metal label with the title of the painting, the date, and the artist is attached to the frame below the painting. Various paper labels adhered to the back of the frame. Based on framer's label on the back, frame appears to be early 20th century. Potentially reframed c. 1917 for the Countess Drogheda's exhibition at Grosvenor House.

Credit Line

Gift of the Norfolk Charitable Trust


Painting, Oil on Canvas


2-D - In Frame (H x W x D): 80.3 × 70.2 × 9.2cm (31 5/8 × 27 5/8 × 3 5/8 in.)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum



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