An extremely unusual portrait photograph - possibly unique - of Henri Becquerel (1852-1908), the discoverer of radioactivity, printed from a negative produced by exposure to radioactivity, not visible light. Radioactivity.
An extremely unusual portrait photograph - possibly unique - of Henri Becquerel (1852-1908), the discoverer of radioactivity, printed from a negative produced by exposure to radioactivity, not visible light

An extremely unusual portrait photograph - possibly unique - of Henri Becquerel (1852-1908), the discoverer of radioactivity, printed from a negative produced by exposure to radioactivity, not visible light

This experimental image (102 × 76 mm) is mounted on plain card (121 × 190 mm); both are in fine condition. The card is warmly inscribed (we believe to Becquerel himself) by its maker, one Julius Hartmann of Michelstadt, Hesse. He refers to it as a 'Radiographie'. On the verso he describes in detail how the image was produced. The stylized portrait of Becquerel in a laboratory setting, beneath which is the letter R within a pentagram emitting rays, was produced on a zinc plate by his brother, Professor A. Hartmann of Darmstadt (Friedrich Ludwig Albert Hartmann, 1868-1928, a professor of drawing and painting at Darmstadt, Germany, from 1902). The zinc plate was placed between a sensitized photographic plate and a layer of ground uranium ore ('faute de Radium') on a sheet of lead, and exposed for 69 hours! This gelatin silver print was produced from the resulting negative. Becquerel discovered radioactivity in 1896; he received the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics jointly with Marie and Pierre Curie for his work, and the SI unit for radioactivity, the becquerel (Bq), is named after him. His relatively early death has been attributed to his handling of radioactive materials.

Item #114867

Price: $3,000.00

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