A French Naïve School Oil on Tin of an Airship by J. Du Bois c.1910

Origin: French
Period: 3rd Republic
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1910
Height: 22.75”
Width: 28.5”
Depth: 1.25” (in frame)
The Work: 22.5” wide x 16.5” high

The primitive and naive depiction in oils on tin of an airship marked 353 and BD, flying the French tricolour amongst fluffy clouds on the sky blue ground; the painting inscribed; Dirigeable de l'Armée de l'Air type No. 353, Section 28-an 1910 and signed J. Du Bois, presented in its original period golden oak veneered frame with ebonised and gilt slips, the whole surviving from the first quarter of twentieth century France.

The painting remains uncleaned and there are some surface marks and scratches, though the whole is in pleasingly original condition with no attempts at restoration and is found in as original order as one could hope to find it, please refer to the photographs for a full visual reference. The original frame has some losses to the veneer.

Airships were originally called dirigible balloons, from the French ballon dirigeable or shortly dirigeable, meaning ”steerable", from the French diriger – to direct, guide or steer. The first airship able to propel itself was in 1852 by Henri Giffard which was 44 meters long and with a volume of 2500m3, inflated with gas and equipped with a steam engine, propeller and rudder. In 1910 when this work was painted, Walter Wellman unsuccessfully attempted an aerial crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in the airship America.

The stylistic way this airship is depicted is probably influenced by ‘The Fantastic Dirigble’ which was a silent film by Georges Méliès released in 1906, so four years previous.

A beautifully dreamy picture which appeals on a decorative level as well as being an important record of ballooning history.