US Founding Father and inventor Benjamin Franklin was first to publish a proposal for an electricity experiment using a key and a kite in early 1752. In June of that year he is said to have successfully performed the experiment with his son, although West has replaced the son with adorable cherubs in this depiction of the event.
Franklin flew a kite into an approaching thunder storm to prove that lightning had an electric charge. He managed to electrically charge the key and could feel the charge when he held his hand near. He is lucky that lightning did not strike the kite or he would have been hit by it; Prof. Georg Wilhelm Richmann in Russia perished in this manner when performing the experiment later in the year.