The Rusty Key

A ratatouille of History, Museums' bits and Interesting Facts. A site for those who like the smell of Old Times.

The incredible talent of a “Bolognese” craftswoman, at the London Science Museum


This small but beautiful object is currently on display with the London Science Museum. You will find it in the section and gallery “The Science and Art of Medicine.” This small statue is a wax male anatomical figure made between 1740 and 1770 by this amazing craftswoman coming from Bologna, Italy. Her name was Anna Morandi Franzolini and she remained strictly connected with the University of Bologna until her death which happened to be in 1774.

As you can see this small wax sculpture represent a man with his skin almost completely peeled back to reveal the anatomy of the body. This woman possessed an incredible talent for moulding using coloured wax and upon his beloved husband death, she also become lecturer of anatomy at the University of Bologna. Her talent was well-known throughout Europe and even Catherine II of Russia wanted her at her court. It has been said that her models were kind of innovating as they took the distance form the neoclassical aesthetic ideal showing each organ of the wonderful “fabric of the human body” in its vital functions but creating at the same time a dynamic psychological whole context. She held the distinction of being the first person to reproduce body parts of minute portions, such as capillary vessels and nerves. Her sculptures were high prized when she was alive and long after her death, especially because of her talent for conjoining fine art and science, sense and cognition, eyes and hands. Two of her best fine wax busts are currently on display at Palazzo Poggi at Bologna and represent herself and her husband while dissecting a human brain.



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