Wax male anatomical figure, Italy, 1776-1780.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This half-life-size figure showing the body's muscle system is one of a series of eight made in the 1770s for La Specola zoological museum in Florence, Italy. They were trial pieces for a set of similar but life-size figures. Made of beeswax, they show the body structures with progresive layers of tisue taken away: the first is merely flayed (with the skin removed), while the last shows only the bones. Each figure is in a wooden case. Both sets of figures were probably made by Clemente Susini (1754-1814) and Francesco Calenzuoli (1796-1829), two of the finest wax modellers of the age. Other artisans, especially in Italy, became extremely skilled at this work, which interested artists and collectors as well as doctors.