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drawing

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1880,1113.4515

  • Description

    View in the garden of Foley House, Portland Place, with Mr Sheldon's Montgolfier balloon on fire; a platform under the balloon which is beginning to collapse, smoke billowing from the top, a circle of figures watch from a distance. 1784
    Pen and ink with watercolour wash

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1784
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 224 millimetres
    • Width: 358 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    The following is from K. Sloan, 'A Noble Art: Amateur Artists and Drawing Masters c. 1600-1800', exhibition catalogue, BM 2000, no. 141 a, b, pp. 198-9, where thedrawing and the related aquatint attributed to Greville (1880,113.4516) are reproduced:
    On the 15th September 1784, Lunardi made the first balloon ascent in England, from the Artillery Ground in front of Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam). It was one of the most spectacular and celebrated events of the century, recorded and satirized in numerous prints, several of them by Paul Sandby, whose print, An English Balloon (BM Satires 6700) depicted the balloon as a grinning face wearing a fool's cap with the ears of an ass projecting from it. Ten days later, the Englishman Keegan and his pilot Dr Sheldon gained permission to attempt to launch their own balloon in the gardens of Foley House. Charles Greville (incorrectly inscribed as Grenville (of Stowe) by Crace), the brother of the 2nd Earl of Warwick, lived in Portland Square overlooking the scene and took the opportunity to record the occasion. The balloon was three times the size of Lunardi's and the attempt ended in disaster when it caught fire. Men with faggots for the fire to heat the balloon from underneath were seen running from it, while two men with trumpets tried to direct the efforts to contain it and spectators watched from a distance.
    Like his brother, Charles was a friend of Sandby, and has traditionally been credited with passing on to the artist the secret of making aquatints Greville had learnt while abroad. In the 1770s, Sandby made a series of aquatints of views in Naples after drawings by Pietro Fabris, who worked for Greville's uncle, Sir William Hamilton. Greville accompanied Sandby on his second tour of Wales, providing the artist with views of the area around Sir William's property near Milford Haven, before returning suddenly to London on the death of his father. Greville himself experimented with aquatint in the early 1770s, and the example attributed to him here, which seems to be an etching and mezzotint over an aquatint base, was produced in 1784; two years later he set up his own printing press in his new house in Paddington in order to print Bartolozzi's engravings of the Portland vase. The frontispiece was designed and probably aquatinted by Greville himself to commemorate his uncle's role in bringing the vase to England (see frontispiece in Greek and Roman Dept, Vases and Volcanoes, no. 64).
    Sandby issued a number of satirical prints of the balloon ascents in 1784, including one titled Caelum ipsum petimus stultitia (BM Satires 6702) which was based on Greville's own drawing and print, but exaggerating the resemblance of the balloon to human posteriors and adding the small image of his own 'English Balloon of 1784' with asses ears to the resulting explosion.

    Literature: A. Griffiths, 'Notes on Early Aquatint in England and France', Print Quarterly, IV, no. 3, 1987, pp. 263-4; I. Jenkins and K. Sloan, "Vases and Volcanoes: Sir William Hamilton and his collection", 1996, pp. 190-1

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  • Bibliography

    • Binyon 1898-1907 1 bibliographic details
    • Crace 1878 XXIX.54 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Crace Collection main series)

  • Exhibition history

    2000 May-Sep, BM P&D, A Noble Art, no. 141a

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1880

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1880,1113.4515

View in the garden of Foley House, Portland Place, with Mr Sheldon's Montgolfier balloon on fire; a platform under the balloon which is beginning to collapse, smoke billowing from the top, a circle of figures watch from a distance.  1784  Pen and ink with watercolour wash

Recto

View in the garden of Foley House, Portland Place, with Mr Sheldon's Montgolfier balloon on fire; a platform under the balloon which is beginning to collapse, smoke billowing from the top, a circle of figures watch from a distance. 1784 Pen and ink with watercolour wash

Image description

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