Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Doll, Mortality Reminder, or Classroom Helper?

What were these mysterious vintage wax anatomical models from the early 1800s for? There's frustratingly little information available online about their size, but here are more pictures of her, and of him, from the Science Museum of London's "Brought to Life" website, which is about the history of medicine, and which is very neat.

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I think it was probably a teaching aid, since you weren't allowed to use corpses and I don't think grave digging was quite as much of a huge thing yet?


Very interesting.@m


Ooo, I saw one of these wax teaching figures at an exhibition of representations of the human body at the Exploratorium in San Francisco back in the day. Only she was clothed, with her garments swept aside (along with her outer tummy) to show a fetus within. She was life-sized and her eyes were open. Something about her being clothed and yet revealed, lying passively and exposed but also looking at her viewers spoke volumes to me about how women have long been viewed by medicine.

Even more amazing were the two real human bodies, one an elderly woman who died of heart failure (I think) and one a mid-50s man who'd been executed, who were sliced in thin vertical slices, front to back. Each slice was encased separately in lucite. They were hung on the wall like on a poster rack so you could flip through them like books.


I think they call that an Anatomical Venus. Teaching aid, yeah.


"Oh...Auntie Emily. You always get little Hortense the nicest gifts."


biomedical ephemera? i think you've found my new favorite tumblr.


there is an entire museum of them in florence called the museo di storia naturale! i can't find my bootleg scholarly pdfs on them but i did write an essay once upon a time on their odd erotic/educational aid dynamic.


Cue: an increase in sales for half living statues on Etsy.

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