National Media Museum blog

We explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image, and its impact on our lives.

Feet, fish and rodents revealed in 19th century X-ray photogravures

Last month, a researcher’s visit gave us a good excuse to marvel anew at this fabulous portfolio. It shows some of the earliest examples of prints made using X-rays.

Grüne Eidechse, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Grüne Eidechse, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

These images date from early 1896, merely a couple of months after Wilhelm Röntgen announced his discovery of X-rays. The announcement caused a stir amongst scientists, and a craze for the new technology amongst the general public.

Hand eines 8 jährigen Mädchens, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Hand eines 8 jährigen Mädchens, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Josef Maria Eder and Eduard Valenta seem to have revelled in revealing things that were previously hidden or invisible. Human bones in hands and feet, cold blooded lizards and a snake, fish and rodents are all uncovered and revealed in perfect photogravure.

Ratte, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Ratte, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

The portfolio Versuche über Photographie mittelst der Röntgen’schen Strahlen contains 15 photogravures and an accompanying essay. It has just been conserved, ready for exhibiting next year. We’re lucky to have this complete example, as well as a good selection of individual prints in the National Photography Collection. Get in touch, book a visit, and come and see it!

Zwei Seefische, Zanclus Cornutus / Acanthurus Nigros, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Zwei Seefische, Zanclus Cornutus / Acanthurus Nigros, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Solfisch (Pleuronectes Solea), 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Solfisch (Pleuronectes Solea), 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Fuss eines 17 jährigen Jünglings, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Fuss eines 17 jährigen Jünglings, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Cameen in Goldfassung, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Cameen in Goldfassung, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Frösche in Bauch - ünd Rückenlage, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Frösche in Bauch – ünd Rückenlage, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Neugeborenes Kaninchen, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder, National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Neugeborenes Kaninchen, 1896, Eduard Valenta and Josef Maria Eder © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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About Rebecca Smith

I'm the collections assistant - I answer enquiries, dig about in the archives, and update information about our collections. In my spare time I like looking at stuff - paintings, old industrial buildings, photographs, hills and waterfalls.

4 comments on “Feet, fish and rodents revealed in 19th century X-ray photogravures

  1. jesús joglar
    October 21, 2013

    Fantastic!!!
    What a nice collection of X-ray photographs, just a couple of months after the announcement of Röntgen. I like a lot #s 1, 4, 5, and 8.
    It is a pity that I am so far to go and see them in exhibition. But if I have any chance of visiting I will try to book in advance.
    Thanks for sharing these wonders!!!

    • Rebecca Smith
      October 24, 2013

      Thanks for your comment Jesús.
      Some of the prints will be on display in London next year, or if you come to the UK in the future you can visit the collection at the National Media Museum in Bradford and see them all!

      • Anonymous
        October 24, 2013

        Thanks Rebecca,
        I was in Leeds last July but I will certainly go again to visit my son, so I will visit the Bradford National Media Museum.
        I wonder what kind of emulsión/ support are those pictures taken, silver gelatin?

  2. Rebecca Smith
    October 24, 2013

    Hello
    The images in the portfolio are photogravures. We’d be very pleased to show you these, (and anything else you are interested in) when you visit.
    Here is the webpage on how to make an appointment. http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/collection/visitcollection.aspx

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