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In the eighteenth century, a less gross form of anatomy marked the beginning of a scientific enlightenment in Italy: the anatomical wax model. The Specola collection of anatomical waxes opened to the...

von Hagens’ business—the extraction of body parts and sale of preserved remains. A few years ago, he spent $ 50 million to turn this run-down site into a global headquarters for his Body Worlds exhibits, fitted out with tanks of acetone (for defatting tissue), high tech freezers, and a morgue. In one corner of the yard, a refrigerated warehouse holds a band saw big enough to rip an elephant in half.

18th century wax vanitas model. Vanitas are works of art intended to remind the viewer of the shortness of human life, the uselessness of vanity and the certainty of death. This example features many symbols typical for this type of object, such as a skull and insects that feast on decaying flesh. The other side of the model shows the face during life. The verse scratched on to the front is from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes and reads “vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.

Plate I. Back and side view of central nervous system. Plain home talk about the human system. 1896.

Nicolas Henri Jacob - Illustration for Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la médecine opératoire (1831-1854) by Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery Autonomic nerves of the body.

Anna Morandi Manzolini was an 18th century female anatomist and master wax modeller, whose wax self portrait depicts her in the act of dissecting a brain! With her husband, Giovanni Manzolini, she held anatomy lessons in their Bologna home. The artistry and accuracy of her wax models made her widely known as a leader in the field, and brought powerful supporters, including the Royal Society of London, Doge Moccenigo of Venice, and Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II.

Roman votive viscera

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