Paper Woman: Auzoux’s Anatomical Models

DITTRICK Museum Blog

smellieQR Dittrick Museum, photographed by Laura Travis

Problems of Decay for 19th c. Anatomy:
Imagine that you are an anatomy student in the 19th century. Preservation techniques for corpses were not very advanced–mostly this consisted in keeping the body as cool as possible. Painstaking study took time, but tissue decomposed so rapidly that you could barely discern one organ, structure, or bone from another. To make things more complicated, bodies were not easy to come by, and sometimes anatomists resorted to resurrection men who “borrowed” from graves–or worse  (see the post on the Burke and Hare murders). What was a student to do?

In the late 1820s, Louis Thomas Jerôme Auzoux (1797-1880) began working on a solution.  As a physician, Auzoux knew only too well the difficulty of studying anatomy directly from a human cadaver and began manufacturing anatomical figures from  papier-mâché, a combination of cork and clay as well as paper…

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Acerca de Leoncio López-Ocón
Historiador. Investigador del Instituto de Historia del Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales del CSIC. Madrid.

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