Painting: “X-Ray Specs”

Oil on canvas, 2014. 90 cm x 120 cm.

“X-Ray Specs” by Leo Jahaan.
Oil on canvas, 2014. 
90 cm x 120 cm.

Oil on Canvas - 2014 - 90cm x 120cm

“X-Ray Specs” depicts the use of an early ‘fluoroscope’, equipment designed to view live x-ray images.  The painting is based on a diagram in a home-study course for learning about x-ray techniques, published in 1902 by a ‘Professor of Static Electricity’.  At the time x-ray equipment had only been in existence for a few years and of course the dangers of radiation were unknown.  With this equipment both the doctor and the patient were exposed to prolonged periods of direct radiation, with the x-ray source behind the patient while the doctor looked through a dark funnel at the patient’s fluorescent innards.  The dangers of this type of machine were first evaluated in the late 1940s, yet over 10,000 of these devices continued to be used around the world until the late 1960s as shoe-fitting devices in public stores, and these devices were often poorly constructed and found to leak radiation around the rest of the store.