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Mrs Letitia Ann Sage, 'The first English female aerial traveller', ascended in Vincenzo Lunardi's balloon on 29 June 1785 from St George's Fields, London. In homage to her beauty, Lunardi had asked Mrs Sage for the honour of taking her into the 'blue Paradisian skies'. Thrilled by this romantic proposal she accepted.

The day dawned and Lunardi announced he was to carry three passengers in his balloon: Colonel Hastings, George Biggin and Mrs Sage. The balloon proved unequal to the task of carrying all the passengers (Mrs Sage weighed around 200 pounds) so gallantly Lunardi and Colonel Hastings stepped down and allowed Mr Biggin and Mrs Sage to continue. Mrs Sage later published her experience as England’s first female aeronaut. She is shown wearing a white fur mantle, hat and half-veil, with a balloon motif in the background.

Science Museum



Letitia Ann Sage




oil on canvas


H 77 x W 63 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

bequeathed by Miss Winifred Penn-Gaskell, 1950

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