There is something romantic about vintage hot air balloon art prints. I think because it was the birth of air travel.
This is a carefully curated collection of vintage hot air balloon drawings, including some beautiful painted French postcards of the earliest hot air balloons and airships. Airships are a type of hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than simply drifting with the wind.
I wrongly assumed that Hot air balloons were part of the Jules Verne novel about Phileas Fogg’s journey around the world in eighty days. I have since found out that it is a common myth.
Jules Verne, however, did write a series of books about characters traveling around Africa in a hot air balloon. The first of which was called “Five Weeks In A Balloon“ published in 1863.
History of Hot Air Balloons
The hot air balloon is the first successful form of flight transport of people. The first hot air balloon flights were tethered by a rope. It wasn’t until 1783 the first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes.
Like with monkeys in space, animals (sheep duck and a rooster) were used as “guinea pigs” for the first manned hot air balloon flights.
Not just for safety reasons but also to test the effects of altitude on the creatures. As the duck and the rooster could already fly they were the control animals in the first test flight.
How Hot Air Balloons Work
Hot air balloons work on the principle that heated air has a lower density than cold air.
Hot air balloons are lighter than air aircraft with an envelope (a bag) which contains heated air. Suspended beneath the envelope is a basket for carrying people in.
A burner creates heat, which travels up into the balloon (called an envelope), and causes the balloon to be buoyant, there is a vent at the top of the balloon that allows the pilot control over ascent and descent.
The Vintage Hot Air Balloon Art
1909 Watercolour French Postcards
The following vintage hot air balloon art prints are from a collection of vintage French postcards in a 1909 scrapbook titled “Album Gravures et Cartes-Postales: Vieux Paris Types Petits Métiers et Cris De La Rue (1909). “
All the watercolour paintings are by the artist A. Molynk.
A watercolour postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of French politicians Léon Gambetta and Eugène Spuller fleeing Paris via hot air balloon during the Franco-Prussian War. The actual date of this flight was the 7th of October 1870.
Postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of the hot air balloon in the style of a sphere with a passenger basket underneath.
This hot air balloon illustration depicts the first flight of a gas-air balloon on December 1, 1783, by French brothers Anne-Jean Robert and Nicolas-Louis Robert and French inventor Jacques Alexandre César Charles.
A vintage hot air balloon art print showing the first successful public hot air balloon demonstration on June 4, 1783, by French brothers Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier.
Postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of a flying airship with assorted propulsion mechanisms and a French flag.
The illustration depicts a type of airship flown by French chemist and politician Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau in 1784.
Vintage hot air balloon illustration in the style of an airship with a sail and oars for steering. The design of the balloon is credited to “Guyot”.
Postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of a navigable hot air balloon designed by aeronaut Ferdinand Lagleize in the style of a fish. 1850.
Postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of the hot air balloon Le Géant (The Giant) flown by French photographer and journalist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon.
A proponent of manned flight, Tournachon commissioned the prominent balloonist Eugène Godard to construct Le Géant in 1863.
Other Vinatge Hot Air Balloon Art Prints
A political cartoon showing a large balloon flying over a town crowded with people. Coloured etching by James Gillray. From the Welcome Collection.
A vintage hot air balloon art print which shows the balloon of Francesco Orlandi, ascending over the public gardens of Bologna, Italy, November 6, 1828.
Another hot air balloon illustration from an Italian political publication 1878.
Another vintage hot air balloon art print from the Welcome collection. The caption says people are flying hot-air balloons, all have baskets and one has wings attached. Coloured engraving by Garner.
Another vintage hot air balloon print from the Welcome Collection. This one shows three hot air balloons over a snowy landscape.
“Newest invention – an air balloon being piloted by eagles 1801”. Blue and yellow striped air balloon being piloted by a man steering two harnessed birds.
A vintage hot air balloon art print labeled “H. Lachambre,” with two men riding in the basket. Poster possibly advertising a balloon manufactured by Henri Lachambre whose facility was located in Vaugirard, a section of Paris, France.
A print showing Jacques Alexandre César Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert riding in the gondola of a balloon ascending from the Tuileries Garden, Paris, France, December 1, 1783, in the first hydrogen balloon flight.
If you liked these vintage illustrations then you will probably enjoy the animal illustrations of Benjamin Rabier.
You might like some of these other print collections.