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

Salamanca (Spain), 1748 - Madrid (Spain), 1814

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Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon at Aranjuez

Ca. 1784. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

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.

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

Technical data

Inventory number
Carnicero, Antonio
Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon at Aranjuez
Ca. 1784
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, Viuda é Hijos de M. Tello, Madrid, 1896.

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

Mayer, August L., Historia de la Pintura Española, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1928, pp. 513.

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

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, Breve historia de la pintura española, Tecnos, Madrid, 1953, pp. 397.

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

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

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

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

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

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

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

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

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 124.

Carroggio, Fernando, Historia del Arte, Carroggio S.A., Barcelona, 1985, pp. 23.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sambricio, Carlos, Real Sitio de Aranjuez. Reflejo del saber de una corte ilustrada, REALES SITIOS: REVISTA DEL PATRIMONIO NACIONAL, Ext., 1989, pp. 111.

Martínez Ibáñez, María Antonia, La pintura de Antonio Carnicero Mancio en el Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XI, 1990, pp. 40.

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

Martínez Cuesta, Juan, El Infante don Gabriel de Borbón y su actividad como mecenas de pintura, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XII, 1991, pp. 39-61.

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

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

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (III). Nuevas Adquisiciones. Museo Iconográfico. Tapices., Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996, pp. nº1236.

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

Jovellanos, Ministro de Gracia y Justicia, Fundación la Caixa, Gijón, 1998, pp. 48.

Portús Pérez, Javier, La colección de pintura española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 177.

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

Maurer, G, 'El Aire. La conquista del cielo' En:, Mena Marques,Manuela B. Goya en Madrid : cartones para tapices 1775-1794, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 290-303 [292 f.8.4].

En plein Air, La Boverie,, 2016, pp. 70-71 n.33.

Zanardi, Tara, Framing Majismo: art and royal identity in eighteenth century Spain, The Pennsylvania State University Press,, 2016, pp. 80.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 641.

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

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 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].

Exhibitions +

Goya y la corte ilustrada
14.02.2018 - 28.05.2018

Goya y la corte ilustrada
27.09.2017 - 21.01.2018

En plein Air
04.05.2016 - 15.08.2016

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

Displayed objects +


Update date: 12-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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