Invited Speaker Abstracts

José Pardo-Tomás 1, Alfons Zarzoso 2.

1 Institució Milà i Fontanals, CSIC, Barcelona.

2 Museu d’Història de la Medicina de Catalunya, Barcelona.

Travelling exhibitions and wax makers on the move: anatomies in early 19th-Century Barcelona.

From the end of the eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, the city of Barcelona was the setting for the circulation, production and exhibition of wax models. Some private cabinets of curiosities were turned into museums, opening up to new audiences and advertising their collections in city guides and the periodical press. At the end of the period, and in a changing urban geographical context, different models were exhibited with artistic, religious, medical and journalistic objectives, even though they were often made by the same artists. Some of these wax models were created as part of the systematic development of medical collections with didactic aims. In this context, wax modellers such as J. Chiappi and S. Malagarriga appeared and disappeared from the city, leaving material and documentary traces, but also some unanswered questions.

 

 

 

Roberto Toni

Department of Medicine and Surgery, and Museum and Historical Library of Biomedicine –BIOMED University of Parma, Parma, Italy. Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism Tufts Medical Center - Tufts University School of Medicine Boston, MA, USA.

 

The masks of Lorenzo Tenchini at the University of Parma: their legacy to the modern concepts of facial transplantation, additive layer manufacturing, and facial recognition algorithms

An academic, anatomist, and psychiatrist active in Parma at the end of the 19th century, Lorenzo Tenchini produced wax masks that are unique in the Western world. Between 1885 - 1893 and following the physiognomical principles of the behavioural research related to social deviances and delinquent tendencies, Tenchini prepared them with the aim of “cataloguing” the expression of the subjects represented. These were prison inmates from Parma, and patients from the nearby psychiatry Colorno asylum. Fourty-six masks are currently kept in the Museum of Biomedicine - BIOMED at the University of Parma, whereas 30 are on view at the Museum of Criminal Anthropology “Cesare Lombroso” in Turin, making a total of 76 masks available. A widely congruent collection of anatomical specimens (skulls, dried viscera) prepared from the cadavers of those subjects is equally kept at BIOMED in Parma. Due to historical suggestions of a completely unknown “Tenchini’s procedure” to prepare the masks but lack of any reference in the Tenchini’s scientific publications, between 2010 and 2017 experimental research was conducted to ascertain this “procedure” (1). In collaboration with the Course of Cultural Heritages of the University of Genoa, a number of analytical investigations of the mask’s structure including CT scans, Fourier spectrophotometry of the superfical wax components, bioptic sampling of the constituents layers, and their study by light, and transmission and scanning electron microscopy were carried out. In addition, in collaboration with the Chair of Legal Medicine and Dept. of Engineering and Architecture of the University of Parma, a program of Photogrammetry-based facial reconstruction (PBFC) and CT-based facial reconstruction (CTBFR) was initiated using skulls of the subjects reproduced in the masks, with the intent to ascertain the correspondence between the former and the latter. Our investigations revealed the presence of a high-density layer applied directly onto a wooden support. This layer, compatible with plaster, was covered by an unbroken layer of a mostly radiopaque material with densitometric values matching those of an organic tissue like cotton gauze or human skin, in turn covered by a top layer of varying thicknes made with pasty and oily material, distinctly resembling wax. Bioptic sampling confirmed the X-ray evidence, showing that the masks were prepared with a sort of “additive layer manufacturing”, in some cases including remains of the facial epidermal layer of the subject represented. In addition, PBCF and CTBRF procedures allowed for reliable reconstruction of the facial features of the original subjects, reasonably corresponding to those depicted in the masks, and retaining a strong emotional content. It is concluded that the facial reconstruction procedure developed by Tenchini in the late 19th century can be considered the historical antecedent of the experimental method of reconstruction used in the early 2000s to test the feasibility of transferring a complete strip of face and scalp from a deceased donor to a living recipient, in preparation for a complete face transplant. In addition, the layering procedure adopted to construct the masks conceptually mimik that developed only in the late 20th century for computer-aided rapid prototyping. Finally, the substantial empathic content of these masks offers clues for retrospectively studying the psychological traits of the people they portray through application of recently developed, deep neural networks algorithm technology.

 

 

Chloe Sharpe 1, Alfons Zarzoso 2. 

1 Universidad Complutense, Madrid.

2 Curator Museu d’Història de la Medicina de Catalunya, Barcelona.

Wax models in Barcelona: from university anatomical sculptors to makers of dermatological waxworks.

The wax models in the Museu d’Història de la Medicina de Catalunya provide insights into a series of overlapping medical and artistic practices which took place from the mid-nineteenth century to the first three decades of the twentieth century. The objects which have survived in the museum collection reflect the importance of anatomical models, produced in different materials, as a communicative tool. The study of these objects brings to light the figure of the university anatomical sculptor, a professional role which existed in all of Spain’s faculties of medicine from the mid-1800s. Meanwhile, wax models produced by other makers point to the important role played by didactic sculptures in the development of new medical disciplines, such as dermatology.

 

 

 

Amaya Maruri Palacín, David Aranda Gabrielli

Museo Olavide, Madrid.

 

Following the tracks of the past: The recuperation of the Olavide Museum

Dermatological wax moulages emerged during the 19th century as skin pathology teaching aids for young doctors, at a time when photography was still rudimentary and did not allow for capturing the singularities and fine details of skin diseases. Wax, as mimetic material, could replicate the more intricate details so its use spread throughout Europe. However, advances in medicine and technology during the twentieth century resulted in many of these artifacts being forgotten.

In recent decades, however, we have seen an expansion of the concept of civil patrimonialization, aiming to bring scientific heritage into the fold of identity cultural legacy, hitherto restricted to history and the arts. Scientific Heritage therefore gains particular relevance.

The Olavide Museum was discovered 10 years ago in a basement due to be demolished. It encompasses more than 600 moulages, mainly from the late nineteenth century, dedicated to the medical field of Dermatology. Additionally, the collection includes lithographs, moulds, case histories and other documentation. Its value resides in that it represents a true time capsule, maintaining its authenticity over the years, presenting an incomparable and unrivaled sample of medical, historical and artistic heritage. However, the process of "rescuing" this museum has not been exempt from the difficulties that pertain to any process of civil patrimonialization. This talk attempt to outline the challenges faced by the process of recovery of this museum and the need for institutional commitment, especially considering the emergence of new types of heritage, to avoid the loss of historical memory and identity.

 

Alberto Zanatta 1, Giovanni Magno 2, Fabio Zampieri 2,
1 University of Padua, University Museums Centre – CAM

2 University of Padua Medical School, Dept. of Cardiac, Thoracic, Vascular Sciences, and Public Health.

The anatomical waxes in the early stage of smallpox vaccination

Luigi Sacco (1769-1863) has been the main protagonist of vaccination campaign in Italy just after the discovery of Jenner. He found an autochthonous source of vaccine lymph with which he personally vaccinated more than 500.000 people and furnished all Italy and even some middle east countries. In several texts Sacco defended vaccination also from a theoretical point of view, supporting that medicine was obliged to accept the efficacy of vaccine, in the name of its utility, even without scientific theories able to explain the physiological mechanism of acquired immunity. He also proposed to create wax models, based on the picture of his books, of “real” and “spurious” smallpox pustules in human, cow, sheep and horse in order to permit not only to doctors, but also to all others health operators to recognized the right pustules from which extract active lymph for vaccination. In his intensions, wax models were three-dimensional tools not only for didactic, but also and especially for medical practice. His philosophy was based on the ideals of immediacy and practicality against old style systematic and theoretic medicine which was still popular at that time. In the Museum of Pathological Anatomy of the Padua University Medical School we have found four anatomical waxes which corresponded exactly to the explicative pictures in 1809 Sacco’s treatise on Vaccine. We have found in the archive of the University the proof which they were expedited from Milan, the city of Sacco, and we have also found the same models at the University of Milan, Pavia and Bologna – the main cities of “Cisalpine Republic”, the state of North Italy formed at the epoch of Sacco following the conquest of Napoleon. We believe that the history of diffusion of these models can be paradigmatic for characterizing the birth of what gradually being contemporary medicine, a science in which images and virtual models has being fundamental didactic and diagnostic tools.

Konrad Schlegel

Kunstkammer & Schatzkammer, Kunstkammer Wien

 

Wax Artefacts in the Kunstkammer of Archduke Ferdinand II (1529-1595) in Ambras Castle

According to it‘s inventory of 1596 the Kunstkammer of Archduke Ferdinand II (1529-1595) in Ambras Castle near Innsbruck contained 20 showcases full of diverse objects like sculptures, decorative arts, musical instruments, clocks, automatons, books, rifles and further various things. All these several hundred objects had been sorted according to materials: wood, stone, bronze, iron, alabaster, silver and gold – each material in one showcase.

 

But there had been only a few artworks made of wax - not more than seven:

A small portrait relief of the man of the house and collector, the archduke himself, signed by Francesco Segala (active 1557- ca 1597) from Padua, which is preserved nowadays in the Kunstkammer Vienna; a lost depiction of Saint Francis in an ebony case; three depictions of women – a small relief with the erotic scene of Leda and the Swan (attributed to Francesco Segala), a bust of an almost nude old lady in physical decline, both, too, preserved in the Kunstkammer Vienna, and a „Venedigisch frauenbild, gar schön gemacht“ [beautiful image of a Venetian lady], lost today. Finally two tondos with heads of children, one awake, the other one with closed eyes – according to inscriptions both objects together form a memento mori. This, too, belongs today to the Kunstkammer Vienna.

Analysing these seven objects so far as still existent or reconstructible can deduce the role wax played as artistic material in an early modern princely collection: It is evident that all these seven are connected by a high degree of realism. The beholder should take these images as most true-to-life in order to be affected by corporeality.

 

These observations back up the thesis by Julius von Schlosser (1866-1938) verbalized in his important essay Geschichte der Portraitbildnerei in Wachs [A History of Wax Portraits], published in the Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, vol. XXIX, 1910/1911, that during renaissance the artistic use of wax developed from memorial function to what Schlosser called “freie Bildplastik” (free sculpture): autonomous artworks under the conditions of „extremer Naturalismus“ (extreme naturalism).

Thomas Schnalke,

Berlin Museum of Medical History at the Charité

Finger Faces. Wax Hand Models and Moulages in Medicine

Every part of the human body has been reproduced in wax: outside or inside, in healthy or pathologic states. Some body parts, however, have a more high-profile wax career, especially those which portray the features of an individual in an obvious way. Heads and faces attract the most attention in medical wax collections all over the world, such as the famous 17th century head by Zumbo in Florence or the early 20th century portraits of patients with eye diseases in Berlin. Another part of the human body conveying personality and which has its own iconographic tradition in wax modelling and moulage making is the hand, with its five gesticulating, gripping, grasping and sensing fingers. In this talk I will follow some general historical perspectives which shape views on the human body by focusing on wax medical replicas of arms and hands. The question is, how does the subjective become embedded, framed, erased and reinstalled in these objects and how close can we really get to the body of an individual when we gaze at medical waxes in our collections and museums.

Laurens de Rooy

Museum Vrolik, Meibergdreef 15, Amsterdam, Netherlands

What Ziegler did not provide: the embryological plate models of Amsterdam anatomist Louis Bolk (1866-1930)
Between the 1870s and 1930s the Amsterdam anatomical laboratory ordered many different series of embryological wax models from the Ziegler Studio. The Amsterdam focus of understanding and teaching anatomy was through the lens of evolutionary morphology. Embryology helped to understand how our bodies had developed not only individually, but also as a species through evolution. 
In 1906 anatomist Louis Bolk started doing his own embryological research and created a large collection of comparative embryological slides, he also started to create his own embryological plate models of beeswax. Embryological plate modelling was developed by German embryologist Gustav born in 1876 and consisted of the stacking of magnified series of sections of embryos or embryological structures, cut out in wax. Over the next years Bolk and his students and employees developed more and more refined and complex embryological reconstructions. As unique embryological models they directly linked Bolk own specific research to his teaching of embryology. 
 
Laurens de Rooy is curator-director of Museum Vrolik, the anatomical Museum of the Amsterdam University Medical Centre. He received his PhD in 2009, his dissertation discussed the role of anatomist Louis Bolk in reviving Dutch anatomy around 1900. In 2012 De Rooy renovated and refurbished the permanent exhibition of Museum Vrolik. Since then he also lectures medical history for medical students. His research interests are in the history of anatomy, embryology and physical anthropology.

 

Andrea Cozza1, Giovanni Battista Nardelli2, Maurizio Rippa-Bonati1

1 Sezione di Medicina Umanistica, Dipartimento di Scienze Cardio-Toraco-Vascolari e Sanità Pubblica, Università di Padova

2 Direttore UOC Clinica Ginecologica e Ostetrica, Dipartimento di Salute della Donna e del Bambino, Università di Padova

The wax models of the Paduan Obstetrical Clinic

In memory of Marina Cimino

In Padua, during the second half of the 18th century, the De morbis mulierum, puerorum, et artificum was taught to medical students for the first time. The study dealt with several matters of gynecological and obstetric interest. In 1765, Luigi Calza (Bolonia; 1736-1783) was appointed to hold such chair. To Calza we owe the foundation in 1774 of the School for Midwives and the institution, presumably in 1769, of an Obstetric Museum equipped with machinery and models for teaching.

The repertoire of obstetric models wanted, and not entirely received, by Calza consisted in both polychrome waxworks and painted ceramics. The realization of the waxworks, of which originally there should have been about sixty and actually were 40, was commissioned to the Bolognese ceroplast Giovanni Battista Manfredini (1742-1789). Manfredini depicted, in life size and often using crystals representing the attached fetal organs, various aspects concerning:

• the anatomy of the female reproductive system and of the breast, the pelvic bones, the perineal muscles and fetal circulation;

• the malformations of genitals and uterine malposition;

• some chronological stages of pregnancy, childbirth and third stage of labour;

• some aspects of pathological pregnancies;

• some examples of manual intervention.

The creation of this museum was not just in line with the exhibition of similar chambers or collections of obstetric interest, but it was also part of a broader cultural context, supported by the Enlightenment typical spirit, in which chambers were created for scientific culture transfer and dissemination.

William G. J. Edwards

Gordon Museum, Senior Tutor, Deputy Director EMDP, Kings College London, Guy’s Campus Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine and Dental School at Guy's, Kings & St.Thomas' Hospital's, London

The Alice Gretner collection rescued from obscurity, repaired and soon ready to be used as always intended for Medical Education.

Having a mid-20th Century collection of Medical wax models alongside the Gordon Museum’s already existing 19th Century Joseph Towne collections allows us to make interesting comparisons in terms of the science of Dermatology and of modelling by two masters of their arts. As a counterpoint to the new Medical waxes made by the Gordon Museum’s Artist-in-residence Eleanor Crook in the 21stCentury, it provides yet more evidence to the continuing efficacy of Wax modelling to Medical Education. The presentation will show some of the restoration work on the Gretner collection models and to make some comparisons between the materials and construction techniques used by Alice Gretner and Joseph Towne."

Ivan Cenzi

Author, Cultural History/Death Studies Independent Scholar, Rome.

 

Saints, Mothers & Aphrodites: Seduction and Dissection of the Female Body

Within the context early modern anatomical ceroplastics, female wax models known as Anatomical Venuses often entail a peculiar cognitive dissonance, at least to the modern eye: the viewer is confronted with the attractiveness of a beautiful naked woman, seemingly conscious, and the disgust and repulsion of discovering her entrails.

In 18th and 19th-century wax sculpture, a striking difference between male and female subjects can be noticed. Many of the female figures show clear sexual overtones, as they lie in seductive and sensual poses; the body of the woman is passive, submissive under the hands of the anatomist who is presumably in the process of dissecting her; she is often carrying a fetus in her womb; her face is almost never dissected, showing instead a vague and ambiguous ecstasy.

Male figures on the other hand, far from having that same sensual appeal, are commonly meant to illustrate the muscles, skeletal apparatus, blood vessels and lymphatic system. Their bodies can be entirely skinned, and their faces dissected.

Most écorchés, the flayed characters depicted in early modern anatomical engravings, show a very similar pattern: male figures are primarily presented in virile poses which exalt their physical strength, and are used accordingly to illustrate the muscular or skeletal system. This “manly” trend in some cases reaches almost comical proportions, for example when the subject is given an unnecessary muscular physique in a plate showing a dissection of the skull.

Instead, female écorchés often exhibit their internal organs (theme of the “unveiling of the uterus”), and are almost inevitably pregnant. The fetus inside the womb was meant to present motherhood as a woman's primary function.

A first clue to understand the sensuality accorded to female écorchés lies in the fact that many anatomical plates were actually copied from erotic prints, f.i. the engravings for Estienne's De dissectione partium corporis humani (1545), which are actually drawn from Caraglio's Loves of the Gods. This can be seen as a premeditated sabotage of eroticism, the dismantlement of a woman's charms: the artist takes some well-known sensual imagery, and anatomizes it. Secondly, the iconography of écorchés was influenced by that of Christian martyrs. In medieval hagiographies, once again we find that a male saint's duty was to endure his torments in a courageous way (thus reinforcing his virility), while women martyrs often had their most feminine parts cut off or disfigured (attaining sainthood through the denial of their own femininity).

All these instances are variations of the same rhetorical device, a recurring motif dating back to the 10th century (Odo of Cluny, Anselm of Canterbury) which consisted in visualizing what lies under a woman's skin, and realizing that her “beauty is made of phlegm, blood, humors and gall”. In order to resist the temptations of the flesh, men were encouraged to envision a woman's body as a “bag of dirt” or a “sack of excrements”.

Jean Baudrillard argued that the anatomical gaze is always the opposite of seduction, as seduction “removes something from the order of the visible” while anatomy makes the inside visible. Thus, exposing Venus' entrails can be seen as an attempt to undermine her dangerous sensuality through the act of dissection.

Ecce mulier! Here is the much-dreaded woman, her seductive power overturned and “reduced to reality”: a bag of revolting organs and guts.

Fausto Barbagli

ANMS President National Association Scientific Museums, Italy. Museum of Natural History, University of Florence, Zoology Section “La Specola”

 

Didactic objects, artworks or museum artefacts? A museological approach to wax modelling. 

Many museums, in different countries, preserve ceroplastic works, guarding a centuries-old artistic tradition that has seen a wide and varied use of this material for different purposes. The metamorphic characteristics of this material led it to be the favourite medium for the creation of a range of artefacts such as artistic, devotional, scientific or just for entertainment.

The institutions that hold the greatest number of works are, however, the Scientific Museums where the creation of anatomical, zoological and botanical models, in coloured wax, developed and enjoyed an enormous success between the mid-18th and the end of the 19th century. 

Due to the fleeting and perhaps ephemeral nature of wax, such collections have suffered years of neglect caused by the fluctuation of taste and for the questioning of their scientific value. The fact that such collections are often kept in scientific museums with other natural specimens, in the past sometime led institutions to give priority to naturalia over artificialia. 

Fortunately, today the cultural value of these collections is well understood and the wax models are receiving increasing attention in our museums.

Fortunatamente oggi il valore culturale di tali collezioni è ben compreso e i modelli in cera riscuotono una crescente attenzione nei nostri musei.

However scientific museums suffer a shortage of scientific and technical staff. Therefore, how can we address and protect such peculiar wax collections? Are these incredibly realistic works, so interesting and fragile at the same time, didactic objects, artworks or mere craft?

Sharon Hecker

Independent Art Historian and Curator, Milan

 

Not Modelled: Medardo Rosso’s Waxes

Despite numerous studies and publications on the subject, the account of how Medardo Rosso made his wax sculptures continues to be misunderstood. It is still widely believed that he hand-modelled each of his works singly, in soft beeswax, over plaster cores rather than cast his works as multiples in flexible gelatin molds. This paper will retrace the steps of Rosso’s process. I will argue for the importance of knowing how the artist made his works both for a better understanding of his art and for the broader context of lost wax casting in his time. 

 

R. De Caro, A. Emmi, R. Boscolo-Berto, C. Tortorella, A. Porzionato, V. Macchi

Section of Human Anatomy, Department of Neuroscience, University of Padua, Italy.

 

The Anatomist's Perspective:

Ceroplastics and Anatomical Preparations in the context of Anatomo-clinical education

The anatomo-clinical education of Padua’s health care students is conditio sine qua non for the development of high level professional competences in clinical medicine and the maintenance of elevated research standards in bio-medical research. For this purpose, frontal lectures held at the Institute of Human Anatomy are constantly complemented with practical activities and through the aid of ceroplastics and anatomical specimen. Wax models in particular represent an instrument for teaching human clinical anatomy which, if associated to the presentation of real anatomical specimen, greatly improves the comprehension of complex anatomical structures, especially for undergraduate students.

In fact, the accurate representation of anatomical details, the possibility to access internal structures from hard-to-reach perspectives and the relatively easy preservation of the models are among the features which are greatly appreciated by students and lecturers alike.

The presentation will revolve around the wax models of the Institute of Human Anatomy used for the anatomo-clinical education of health care students, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of these models over other anatomical preparations, such as plastinated anatomical samples, vascular casts and formalin-fixed human specimen. Furthermore, the necessity of integrating frontal lectures with practical activities revolving on the study of anatomical wax models and real dissections will be discussed. 

Eleanor Crook

Artist in Residence, the Gordon Museum of Pathology, King’s College London

The resurrection  of wax as bronze: using the  renaissance wax modelling techniques of  Habsburg bell casting for a new statue.

Eleanor Crook presents the materials and techniques she has developed whilst producing a new public sculpture combining wax modeliing for waxworks with wax modelling for bronze. These have been researched both in an historic bell casting foundry in Austria and from Renaissance bronze works of the Habsburg emperors. The lost skills of the 16th century Austrian bronze founders were developed in response to a need to achieve rich surface detail on a large number of over lifesize sculptures. Their ingenuity can be reconstructed by close attention to the details of the finished works, there being little documentation of how they achieved their effects. Eleanor has combined detective work with studio experiments and gives an account of these processes, incorporating casting, modelling, printing and even wax carving with woodcarving tools, describing how historic making processes can be harnessed and adapted in  contemporary sculpture practice.

Francesco M. Galassi

Associate Professor, Flinders University

 

Plague: from paleopathology to wax modelling

Plague, an infectious disease caused by Yersinia pestis, has been responsible for an incredibly high number of deaths and devastations throughout history. This talk examines the historico-medical and literary aspects of this scourge by complementing traditional data with information collected thanks to the palaeopathological analysis of ancient human remains and by means of a special focus on the wax model representations of death brough about by plague. In particular, the ceroplastic representations by the Sicilian 17th-century artist Gaetano Giulio Zumbo (1656-1701) will be examined.