Published by Richards & Co.
- Creation: 19th century
Conditions Governing Use
Access to the Theodore Newton Vail Collection of Aeronautical Images, Broadsides and Clippings is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.
Biographical / Historical
The imagery in this print was derived from Sébastien Le Clerc's 1698 engraving "L'Académie des sciences et des beaux-arts" which itself borrowed from earlier artworks, notably Raphael's "School of Athens." Le Clerc's engraving was also used as the basis for frontispiece designs for a number of other encyclopeadias published before and after this one. The first seems to have been Ephraim Chambers' Cyclopaedia, published in London in 1728. The preface of the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, for which the original of this print was the frontispiece, focused on the "progress of science." The preface of the fourth edition dealt with similar themes and its frontispiece also included an image of a balloon. The implication of the balloon's inclusion in these images was that the balloon had earned a place among history's great scientific discoveries.
Language of Materials
Existence and Location of Originals
Art on Paper
23.4 x 20.0 cm
Print originally used as the frontispiece for the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1797. A balloon flies above a Greek architectural square where are gathered a large group of men, buildings, inventions and discoveries significant to the history of Western science, art and philosophy.
Source of Biographical/Historical note
Keen, Paul. "The 'Balloonomania': Science and Spectacle in 1780s England. Eighteenth-Century Studies, 39: 4 (2006), 507-535.
"Sébastien Leclerc and the British Encyclopaedists," Sphæra: the newsletter of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, Autumn, 1997. /www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/sphaera/index.htm?issue6/articl11> Accessed February 26, 2010.
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