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Anatomical Venus

Fontana Workshop Italian

Not on view

An interest in human anatomy during the eighteenth century led to the production of female wax cadavers known as "anatomical Venuses." These hyperreal sculptures—with glistening skin, languid poses, and flowing hair—were designed for disassembly and exploration of the feminine interior and sex organs. Critics dismissed anatomical sculptures as peepshow science, though one Florentine practitioner, Clemente Susini, earned a sterling reputation for his superior wax modeling. This figure was produced in the workshop where Susini practiced, and it bears resemblance to his works that sit halfway between life and death, artwork and artifact, and science and erotica.

Anatomical Venus, Fontana Workshop (Italian, 1754–1805), Wood skeleton, transparent wax, variously colored waxes with pigments, hair, venetian glass, and rosewood, Italian

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Courtesy the Hungarian National Museum - Semmelweis Medical History Museum, Budapest, Hungary . Photo © Gábor Nyíri