Art and the Brain: Chapter 7. The Wondrous Book of the Human Brain in 3-Dimensions


Écorchés and Anatomical Models
Wax Modeling
18th Century Art, Science, and Medicine


Although it is said that the anatomical wax model marked the beginning of a scientific enlightenment that connects art and medicine, at least in Italy, as the “Medical Venus” effectively became the professor, not all were fully taken by the medium. To be sure, it offered a mode of modeling the body. Yet, as these forms of representation spread throughout Europe, appealing to the lay public as well as some medical practitioners, some questioned their lack of scientific rigor and found their embellishments distracting as teaching aids. No doubt, the colored wax models could build a foundation comparable to human features and portray particular physical features. The question raised was whether these portrayals, like the narrative components of the Fabrica, were compromising science by diffusing empirical details? How (or whether) artistic flourishes like color and narrative add an intrusive element was an ongoing discussion point, and one discussed in the next chapter through the differing views of William Hunter, a physician and the first professor of anatomy at the Royal Academy of Art, and Joshua Reynolds, an artist and the founding president of the Royal Academy.

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