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Original photograph by Alberto Santos Dumont (1907)

Original photograph by Alberto Santos Dumont (1907)

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In 1907, a group of great personalities watched Alberto Santos Dumont's experiments on a seaplane.

  • Period photography, by Rol photography agency, of a group of personalities observing Alberto Santos Dumont.
  • Some notes on the back, in French.
  • 11.8cm x 16.8cm.
  • October 23, 1907, Paris region, on the River Seine.
  • Good state.
  • Unique piece.

Assistance aux esseis de l'hydroplane Santos Dumont
October 1907

Delagrange aviator
Kapferer pilot de la Belle de Paris
Don Jaime de Bourbon
Captain Caddy
Archiduc Salvatore Leopold d'Autriche
Demarest de la St Antoinette

(There is one more person, on the far right of the photo, a gentleman whose surname is Mangin.)

By the end of 1907, aviation was taking off with the flights of American and European pioneers. Santos-Dumont abandoned the airship to build the "Demoiselle". But before that, he dedicated himself to nº 18, a seaplane. After tests on the River Seine, without an engine at the end of the summer, Santos-Dumont installed a 50 hp engine, and then a 100 hp one, before sinking it and almost drowning.

This photograph is famous and has been reproduced countless times on postcards. It represents a group of seven elegant men, watching from a boat on the River Seine, the exploits of Santos Dumont in his seaplane. The men who appear in the photograph are the following:

Léon Delagrange (1872-1910). Santos-Dumont made his last flight as a pilot on the Demoiselle, on January 4, 1910. The flight ended in an accident, but he survived with only a few bruises. That same day, pioneer Léon Delagrange died while riding a Blériot.

Henri Kapferer (1870-1958) was an entrepreneur passionate about mechanics. Descendant of Henry Deutsch, creator of the famous Deutsch award (1901-1903), which contributed to making Santos Dumont a celebrity in 1901 (I will soon present an exceptional document by Santos Dumont reporting this event!).

I have not yet discovered who Don Jaime de Bourbon, Capitaine Caddy, Demarest de la St Antoinette and Mangin were. But Archduke Salvatore Leopold of Austria (1863-1931) was a military man and scientist, heir to the European Habsburg royal family. He made his fortune by patenting an engine for the Czech brand, Skoda.

More and more, I love photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Especially when they show Brazil or renowned Brazilians. This is the case in this photograph, in which Santos Dumont does not appear, but all eyes are directed at him, admiring the little Brazilian, very brave. The photograph was taken from the pier and I was fascinated by the elegance and posture of these seven men. Fun detail, a dog that appeared in the foreground, at the exact moment the photographer activated his camera.

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