Vol-au Vent ou le Patissier d'Anières

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    Cartoon shows a young boy with wings on his back, about to jump down from a pole and attempt to fly. The harlequin costume and the references to the pastry cook of Anieres are unclear. The background shows the Swiss clock-maker Jakob Degan and his ornithopter dangling beneath a balloon. Some other experimenters, notably George Cayley, read accounts of Degan's exploits and assumed that the man had flown without the balloon.

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    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Print, Etching on Paper, Colored

    Cartoon shows a young boy with wings on his back, about to jump down from a pole and attempt to fly. The harlequin costume and the references to the pastry cook of Anieres are unclear. The background shows the Swiss clock-maker Jakob Degan and his ornithopter dangling beneath a balloon. Some other experimenters, notably George Cayley, read accounts of Degan's exploits and assumed that the man had flown without the balloon.

    2 of 2

The Birth of Flight: NASM Collections

The invention of the balloon struck the men and women of the late 18th century like a thunderbolt. Enormous crowds gathered in Paris to watch one balloon after another rise above the city rooftops, carrying the first human beings into the air in the closing months of 1783.The excitement quickly spread to other European cities where the first generation of aeronauts demonstrated the wonder of flight. Everywhere the reaction was the same. In an age when men and women could fly, what other wonders might they achieve.

"Among all our circle of friends," one observer noted, "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." Single sheet prints illustrating the great events and personalities in the early history of ballooning were produced and sold across Europe. The balloon sparked new fashion trends and inspired new fads and products. Hair and clothing styles, jewelry, snuffboxes, wallpaper, chandeliers, bird cages, fans, clocks, chairs, armoires, hats, and other items, were designed with balloon motifs.

Thanks to the generosity of several generations of donors, the National Air and Space Museum maintains one of the world's great collections of objects and images documenting and celebrating the invention and early history of the balloon. Visitors to the NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport can see several display cases filled with the riches of this collection. We are pleased to provide visitors to our web site with access to an even broader range of images and objects from this period. We invite you to share at least a small taste of the excitement experienced by those who witness the birth of the air age.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum