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Anatomical Venus: The gory idealized beauty of wax medical models
06.30.2014
06:24 am

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From the “Josephinum Museum” of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Late 18th century
 
The importance of anatomical models cannot be overstated in the education of medical professionals, but these learning tools have not always been so… clinical. Behold, the “Anatomical Venus,” idealized female forms first popularized in 18th century Europe, intended for the education of both medical students and a curious public (men and women were most often segregated for viewings). The figures were usually made of wax, which is malleable and conducive to bright colors and the “ladies” were often adorned with jewelry, ribbons and elaborate makeup.

Disturbingly, some of models look dead, while others are depicted as if they were flayed alive—some even appear to express a level of eroticism. The detail and care in craftsmanship only ups the uncanny factor. Fair warning, quite a few of these are probably not safe for work, and not just for anatomical gore. Boobs, even waxen or terra cotta medical boobs, can get a person in trouble with the boss, and the creepy bedroom eyes of these disemboweled beauties could definitely give the wrong impression as to your perversity. I saved the most unsettling (at least in my opinion), for last—a decidedly unimpressed woman giving birth… the doctor’s hand is featured.
 

From La Specola museum. Florence, Italy, 1818
 

From Museu d’Història de la Medicina de Catalunya. Barcelona, Spain, 19th century
 

From La Specola museum, Florence, Italy, 18th century. By Clemente Susini. Note the tiny fetus.
 

From La Specola museum, Florence, Italy, no date given.

Depicting eyelid surgery. From Musée Orfila, Paris, France, no date given.
 

Giovan-Battista Manfredini, late 18th century. Actually made from terra cotta, not wax.
 

Late 19th century
 

Jules Talrich, Paris, late 19th century.

Posted by Amber Frost

 

 

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