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Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon at Aranjuez
Carnicero Mancio, Antonio
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Carnicero Mancio, Antonio

Salamanca, 1748 - Madrid, 1814

Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon at Aranjuez

Ca. 1784. Oil on canvas, 169 x 279.5 cm.

The event depicted in this painting by Antonio Carnicero illustrates the interest in scientific advances characteristic of the Enlightenment, a historical period from the second half of the 18th century dominated by practical reason. The image shows French balloon pilot Bouclé’s experiment in the gardens of the Royal Seat at Aranjuez on June 5, 1784, during the final years of Charles III’s reign. It was Spain’s first manned balloon flight and it ended in an accident, as the daring pilot was injured when he failed to successfully control the apparatus’s descent. It has also been suggested that this work by Carnicero actually depicts a previous test, which took place on November 23, 1783, when the Marquis d’Aile and Pilâtre de Rozier attempted a flight before the royal family and the court at the Royal Seat of El Escorial.

From an artistic standpoint, the painting narrates a true event, and in that sense, it contrasts with the catastrophist fantasies of contemporaneous artists, including the numerous shipwrecks and storms invented by 18th-century European artists such as Claude-Joseph Vernet, some of which were deliberately grandiloquent in keeping with the esthetic theory of the sublime. But here, the accent is on a lived experience. The painter attempts to capture the moment without striving for esthetic sensationalism. Instead, he seeks the greatest possible veracity in recording an unprecedented event, employing all his resources to that end. The composition is therefore quite schematic, with a rigorous horizontality that is only enlivened by the figures, most of which are dressed in festive clothing that represents the privileged elite as well as others of quite varied class and condition.

Carnicero’s style is direct and prosaic, reflecting his customary preference for costumbrista scenes, with a rather strange palette. The stiff figures and lack of imagination weaken this work, which could have been a fine example of popular charm. Still, its colorfulness, relaxed atmosphere, documentary intentions and ties to a genre scene make it uncommonly attractive among such compositions, of which there are very few. There is a reduced version of inferior quality at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao (Text drawn from Luna, J. J.: El Prado en el Ermitage, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, pp. 182-183).

Technical data

Inventory number
Carnicero Mancio, Antonio
Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon at Aranjuez
Ca. 1784
High/Height: 169 cm.; Width: 279.5 cm.
Ducal House of Osuna, Madrid; sold at the auction of the properties of the Ducal House, 1896; acquired by the Ministry of Development for the Museo del Prado, which it entered that same year.

Bibliography +

Sentenach y Cabañas, Narciso, Catálogo de los cuadros, esculturas, grabados y otros objeto, Madrid Viuda é Hijos de M. Tello, 1896.

Exposición del antiguo Madrid: catálogo general ilustrado, Madrid [s.l], 1926.

Mayer, August L.1885-1944, Historia de la Pintura Española, Madrid EspasaCalpe, 1928, pp. 513.

Aguilera, Emiliano M., Pintores españoles del siglo XVIII, Barcelona IberiaJoaquin Gil, 1946, pp. 19.

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique (1898-1985)), Breve historia de la pintura española /, Madrid Tecnos,, 1953, pp. 397.

Goya and his times: Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, 1963-4:, Londres Royal Academy of Arts in London, 1963, pp. 13.

Ars hispaniae: historia universal del arte hispánico, Madrid Plus Ultra, 1965, pp. 397.

Puente, Joaquín de la, Exposicion de Arte Español, Tokio Asahi Shimbun, 1970.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Madrid Museo del Prado, 1972.

Honour, H., The Age of the Neoclassicism, Londres The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972.

Puente, Joaquín de la, Del Greco a Goya, Madrid Ministerio de Cultura, 1978.

L' art européen á la cour d'Espagne au XVIIIe siecle, Paris Reunion des musees nationaux, 1979, pp. 52.

Pirenne, Jacques, Historia Universal. Las Grandes Corrientes de la Historia. V, Barcelona Ediciones Oceano, 1982, pp. 377.

Carroggio, Fernando, Historia del arte, Barcelona CarroggioS.A., 1985, pp. 23.

Museo Nacional del Prado., Museo del Prado : catálogo de las pinturas /, Madrid Museo del Prado,, 1985.

Museo Nacional del Prado., Museo del Prado : catálogo de las pinturas /, Madrid Museo del Prado,, 1985, pp. 124.

El Real Sitio de Aranjuez y el arte cortesano del siglo XVII, Madrid Patrimonio Nacional, 1987, pp. 135, 413.

Martinez Ibañez, Maria Antonia, Antonio Carnicero Mancio, Pintor. Vol. II. Tesis Doctoral, Madrid Universidad Complutense, 1987, pp. 343.

Iglesias, Maria del Carmen, Carlos III y la ilustración: 1788-1988, Madrid Ministerio de Cultura, 1988, pp. 678.

Robertson, Ian1928-, Los Curiosos Impertinentes. Viajeros Ingleses por España Des Serbal.C.S.I.C., 1988, pp. 69.

Symmons, Sarah, Goya. In Pursuit of Patronage, Londres Gordon Fraser, 1988, pp. 85.

Martínez Ibáñez, Mª Antonia, La pintura de Antonio Carnicero en el País Vasco MUSEO DE BELLAS ARTES DE BILBAO, 1988, pp. 49.

Sambricio, Carlos, Real Sitio de Aranjuez. Reflejo del saber de una corte ilustrada PATRIMONIO NACIONAL, 1989, pp. 111.

Magariños, A., Las Raices de Todas las Cosas : Exposicion con Motivo del Di, Madrid Ministerio de Obras Publicas,, 1989, pp. 34.

Portela Sandoval, Francisco Jose, La pintura del siglo XVIII, Barcelona Vicens-Vives, 1990, pp. 185/lám. 111.

Martínez Ibáñez, Mª Antonia, La pintura de Antonio Carnicero en el Prado MUSEO DEL PRADO, 1990, pp. 40.

Martínez Cuesta,, El Infante don Gabriel de Borbón y su actividad como mecenas de pintura MUSEO DEL PRADO, 1991, pp. 39-61.

Rodríguez Gutiérrez de Ceballos, Alfonso, El Siglo XVIII: entre la tradición y academia, Madrid Sílex, 1992, pp. 205.

Buendía, José Rogelio1928-, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Barcelona Lunwerg Editores, 1994, pp. 178.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, Madrid Museo del PradoEspasa Calpe, 1996, pp. nº1236.

Martinez Ibañez, Maria Antonia, Antonio Carnicero Mancio, Salamanca Caja Salamanca y Soria, 1997, pp. 269-270.

Jovellanos, Ministro de Gracia y Justicia, Gijon Fundacion la Caixa, 1998, pp. 48.

Portús, Javier (1961-), La Coleccion de Pintura Española en el Museo del Prado, Madrid : Edilupa, 2003, pp. 177.

El Prado en el Hermitage : Museo Estatal del Hermitage : Mus, 2011, pp. 182-183.

Maurer, G, 'El Aire. La conquista del cielo' En:, Madrid Museo Nacional del Prado, 2014, pp. 290-303 [292 f.8.4].

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (desde 1856). Núm. 1236.
Autor don Antonio Carnicero/ 1236. Elevacion de un Mongolfier/ alto ancho/ 1,67 2,80/ idem. como el anterior [adquirido por el Estado en la almoneda de la casa de Osuna. Real Orden 27 mayo 1896].

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 641.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 641.

Exhibitions +

Goya in Madrid
28.11.2014 - 03.05.2015

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

Jovellanos, ministro de gracia y justicia
12.05.1998 - 28.06.1998

Carlos III y la Ilustración
27.02.1989 - 16.04.1989

Carlos III y la Ilustración
09.11.1988 - 22.01.1989

El Arte en las Cortes Europeas del siglo XVIII
29.04.1987 - 22.06.1987

Location +

Room 089 (On Display)

Update date: 15-12-2015 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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