[The Foot of Matar N’Doye.] Pied de Matar N’Doye. Röntgen, X-Ray.
Early Anthropological X-Ray Image of an African Man

[The Foot of Matar N’Doye.] Pied de Matar N’Doye.

[France]: [around 1896]. Original, vintage b/w x-ray image printed on photo paper. Size: ca. 180 × 240 mm. Captioned on verso in ink by a contemporary hand. Small spots on verso. Overall in very good condition.

A very early example of the use of radiography in the field of anthropology; one of the earliest x-ray images of an African man.
During the late 19th century in the period of New Imperialism colonial exhibitions became popular in the western world and were held throughout the main trading cities of Europe. A common and popular part of these events was the “Village Nègre” an exhibit displaying indigenous people from the colonies. In the case of France, people from Senegal were part of this attraction, among them Matar N’Doye whose foot was immortalized on the present x-ray print.
Matar N’Doye was born in Dakar around 1862 into a family of Lebu ethnicity. He was one of the first indigenous employees of the Dakar–Saint-Louis railway (opened in 1885), and we know with certainty that he participated in the black villages of Paris ("Sudanese Exhibition" at Champ-de-Mars, 1895) and Rouen (Exposition nationale et coloniale, 1896). During the colonial exhibition in Rouen, he worked as an interpreter, where he “quickly became essential and very popular”. (Bergougniou et al., 2001) His photo portrait, taken at the Sudanese Exhibition, is kept today at the Musée du Quai Branly (PP0069901).
X-ray was discovered by the German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen on November 8, 1895. It was also him, who made the first X-ray image, Hand mit Ringen (Hand with Rings) of his wife's hand, taken a few weeks later on December 22. His first paper about the discovery, Ueber eine neue Art von Strahlen (On A New Kind of Rays), was published on 28 December 1895. The experimentation with x‑rays became widespread immediately its first use under clinical conditions was already on 11 January 1896 in England.
Anthropological use of x-ray was very seldom in the early years, although the non-medical applications covered a very wide spectrum already in 1896–1897, such as imaging of museum artifacts, non-destructive industrial testing, customs searches for terrorist devices, and the detection of real and false gems. (Mould, 2011) Literature: Bergougniou, J-M., Clignet, R., David, P. 2001. “Villages noirs” et autres visiteurs africains et malgaches en France et en Europe, 1870–1940. Paris: Karthala, 2001.; Mould, R.F., 2011. Promienie X w latach 1896–1897 [X-rays in 1896–1897]. Nowotwory Journal of Oncology 61, No. 6., pp. 590–600.

Price: €20,000.00

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