Artists eager to create representations of the human body employed many different varieties of media, including bronze, ivory, wax, and paper-mache (meaning chewed paper). Ecorché statuettes, or flayed anatomic models, were popular during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries while beautiful eighteenth century wax models can still be seen on display at the Specola Museum in Florence, Italy.
wax female abdominal anatomy from La Specola (ca. 1780)
Gaetano Guilo Zumbo was the first to make colored wax models in Bologna during the latter part of the seventeenth century, and Italian craftsmen improved upon his techniques the following century, creating some of the finest wax models ever made. Clemente Susini carried on this specialized craft in the eighteenth century, aided by the fine anatomist Paolo Mascagni. The wax figures had to be individually carved, and it took up to two hundred cadavers to make one model because of the lack of adequate preservation.
Daguerreotype of Dr. Louis T.J. Auzoux and paper-mache model (ca. 1860)
Louis Thomas Jerome Auzoux (1797-1880) addressed the demand for anatomic models in a different way by creating paper-mache representations of body parts, occasionally greater than life-size. Auzoux was a French medical graduate, though he never practiced medicine, preferring to supply anatomic figures to medical schools in Europe, England, and the United States. He took colored strips of paper and used either hide glue or natural resins to form full figures and anatomic parts for his models.
flap anatomical manikins by various makers (ca. 1900)
As the population grew rapidly at the beginning of the twentieth century, the increased need for study materials could only be met through mass production. The artistry of wax and paper-mache figures was lost forever, giving way to “flap” models with the anatomy of each organ revealed as a layer of paper or metal was peeled off from the one above. Flap anatomies (ca. 1880–1910): (top) Yaggy’s Anatomical Study by I.W. Yaggy and J.J. West, Smith’s American Manikin by Elias Smith, MD, Pilz Anatomical Manikin by American Thermo-Wave Co., NY; (bottom) Bodyscope by Ralph Segal, NY, Dr. Minder’s Anatomical Manikin of the Human Body by American Thermo-Wave Co., NY, Philip’s Model of the Human Body (Female) by George Philip and son, London