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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 in a hydroplane.

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

Assistance aux esseis de l'hydroplane Santos Dumont
October 1907

delagrange aviator
Kapferer pilote 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 last name 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 Seine River, without an engine in late summer, Santos-Dumont installed a 50 hp engine, and then a 100 hp, before sinking it and nearly 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 hydroplane. The men who appear in the photograph are as follows:

Leon 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 piloting a Blériot.

Henri Kapferer (1870-1958) was a businessman with a passion for mechanics. Descendant of Henry Deutsch, creator of the famous Deutsch prize (1901-1903), which contributed to make Santos Dumont a celebrity, in 1901 (I will soon present an exceptional document by Santos Dumont describing this event!).

I still haven't found out 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 Habsbourg 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 famous Brazilians. It is the case of this photograph, in which Santos Dumont does not appear, but all eyes are directed towards him, admiring the little Brazilian, very brave. The photograph was taken from the pier and I was fascinated by the elegance and poise of these seven men. Amusing detail, a dog that appeared in the foreground, at the exact moment when the photographer activated his camera.

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