Museo delle cere anatomiche “Luigi Cattaneo”


“Luigi Cattaneo”

Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna


The Museum’s collection of normal and pathological wax anatomical models and preserved specimens provides a clear understanding of the developments in medical knowledge that took place during the 18th and 19th centuries. By the 19th century, the workings of the human body had been thoroughly investigated and interest was especially directed to abnormalities and disease.The wax models and dried anatomical preparations of the Luigi Cattaneo collection are an historical follow on from the 18th century collection of normal human anatomy to be found in the Palazzo Poggi museums. They show the advances made by medical knowledge between the 18th and 19th centuries in Bologna, the citysynonymous with medical studies… (continue reading)

Wax model by Clemente Michelangelo Susini

Wax model by Clemente Michelangelo Susini

Wax model by Giuseppe Astorri

Wax model by Giuseppe Astorri

Wax model by Cesare Bettini

Wax model by Cesare Bettini




From Cheselden’s plates of the human bones, 1816


William Cheselden: Cheselden’s plates of the human bones, correctly reduced from the original copy, and improved with additional figures; accompanied with concise explanations for the use of students (1816)


for the whole plates:

"Front view of the male skeleton, with some of the cartilages and ligaments which connect the bones to each other"

“Front view of the male skeleton, with some of the cartilages and ligaments which connect the bones to each other”

"Back view of the male skeleton, with some of the cartilages and ligaments which connect the bones to each other"

“Back view of the male skeleton, with some of the cartilages and ligaments which connect the bones to each other”

"Connected view of the head and face"

“Connected view of the head and face”

"A view of the whole bones of the trunk"

“A view of the whole bones of the trunk”

Morbid Anatomy Exhibition (and more)


Ecstatic Raptures and Immaculate Corpses: Visions of Death Made Beautiful in Italy

An exhibition of photographs by Joanna Ebenstein of Morbid Anatomy with waxworks by Eleanor Crook & Sigrid Sarda

Viktor Wynde Fine Art, 11 Mare Street, London, E8 4RP

Opening Reception: September 6, 6-8, Sponsored by Hendricks Gin

In her many projects, ranging from photography to curation to writing, New York based Joanna Ebenstein utilizes a combination of art and scholarship to tease out the ways in which the pre-rational roots of modernity are sublimated into ostensibly “purely rational” cultural activities such as science and medicine. Much of her work uses this approach to investigate historical moments or artifacts where art and science, death and beauty, spectacle and edification, faith and empiricism meet in ways that trouble contemporary categorical expectations. In the exhibition “Ecstatic Raptures and Immaculate Corpses” Ebenstein turns this approach to an examination of the uncanny and powerfully resonant representations of the dead, martyred, and anatomized body in Italy, monuments to humankind’s quest to eternally preserve the corporeal body and defeat death in arenas sacred and profane.The artifacts she finds in both the churches, charnel houeses and anatomical museums of Italy complicate our ideas of the proper roles of—and divisions between—science and religion, death and beauty; art and science; eros and thanatos; sacred and profane; body and soul. In this exhibition, you will be introduced to tantalizing visions of death made beautiful, uncanny monuments to the human dream of life eternal. You will meet “Blessed Ismelda Lambertini,” an adolescent who fell into a fatal swoon of overwhelming joy at the moment of her first communion with Jesus Christ, now commemorated in a chillingly beautiful wax effigy in a Bolognese church; The Slashed Beauty, swooning with a grace at once spiritual and worldly as she makes a solemn offering of her immaculate viscera; Saint Vittoria, with slashed neck and golden ringlets, her waxen form reliquary to her own powerful bones; and the magnificent and troubling Anatomical Venuses, rapturously ecstatic life-sized wax women reclining voluptuously on silk and velvet cushions, asleep in their crystal coffins, awaiting animation by inquisitive hands eager to dissect them into their dozens of demountable, exactingly anatomically correct, wax parts. (from the postcard invitation)

more info about the exhibition and other events at :

Wellcome Collection : Brains

Brains: The mind as matter

29 March – 17 June 2012

Wellcome Collection

“Our major new free exhibition seeks to explore what humans have done to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change.

Featuring over 150 artefacts including real brains, artworks, manuscripts, artefacts, videos and photography, ‘Brains’ follows the long quest to manipulate and decipher the most unique and mysterious of human organs, whose secrets continue to confound and inspire.

‘Brains’ asks not what brains do to us, but what we have done to brains, focusing on the bodily presence of the organ rather than investigating the neuroscience of the mind”

Phrenological head (Victoire) - Plaster model (copy), c. 1825

This is a plaster copy of a cast from the head of a 24-year-old woman named Victoire, described as an idiot and suffering from microcephaly, a rare genetic condition that restricts brain development. It came from the collection of the British Phrenological Society, which also included plaster casts of the heads of eminent persons and the skulls of other primates for comparison. Phrenology was controversial and dismissed by many as pseudo-science, but the British Phrenological Society survived until 1967.*

The Anatomy of the Brain - Watercolour in book, Charles Bell, 1823

Distinguished British anatomist and surgeon Sir Charles Bell (1774–1842) published the first edition of ‘The Anatomy of the Brain’ in 1802. Bell undertook significant work on the localisation of brain function in the cerebrum (the largest portion of the brain, consisting of folded bulges called gyri) and the cerebellum. This plate shows the “general anatomy and subdivisions of the brain” and membranes, veins and arteries covering it. The pose of the head shows the usual method of positioning it for dissection at the time.*

Pre-operative photograph of female patient with craniopharyngioma - Black-and-white photograph, 1919

Many of the patients in these photographs presented with much more advanced tumours than would normally go unchecked today. The 15-year-old subject of this photograph suffered years of headaches, nausea, convulsions, restricted development and impaired vision before being referred to the famous brain surgeon, Dr Harvey Cushing. She was in and out of hospital for the next 12 years, although the final letter in her file, from her father in 1931, strikes an optimistic note and thanks Cushing for his care.*

Examination of the skull and brain: method of removing the brain after it is severed from the body - Henry W. Cattell, 1903

The brain is notoriously difficult to access and a set of careful procedures are required to remove its protective layers of skin and bone to facilitate removal after death. This delicate process marks the transitional moment between the brain as ‘self’ and the brain as an object of study, when it usually becomes physically disconnected from the spine and is completely exposed. This photograph was made for a textbook on post-mortems.*



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