La Decouverte du Dr. Roentgen Roentgen, Wilhelem  (German, 1845-1923)

Photograph Taken by Dr. Voller of Hamburg Using the Roentgen System appearing as a half-tone in the periodical, L’Illustration.

The discovery of the ‘X-ray’ had profoundly significant effects upon modern culture; it pushed the boundaries of science and medicine, operated as spectacle for public entertainment, nourished beliefs in the paranormal and provided a subject through which printed media could raise emerging modern social and ethical issues. The fascination with X-rays has been described as a ‘mania [that] swept the West’. At least forty-nine books and 1,044 scientific essays on the subject appeared in the first year of its discovery. While X-radiation generated incredible cultural and scientific fascination, it was also enveloped into other media, from writing and literature to film and painting.