Anatomical Venus by Clemente Susini and workshop, 1782 (from the Getty Villa’s Color of Life exhibition)
Photograph by Saulo Bambi, Museo di Storia Naturale “La Specola,” Florence, Italy
Anatomical Venuses are life-sized wax anatomical models of idealized women, extremely realistic in appearance and often adorned with real hair and ornamental jewelry. These figures consist of removable parts that can be “dissected” to demonstrate anatomy— a breast plate is lifted to reveal the inner workings of the mysterious female body, often with a fetus to be found nestling in the womb. […] This was a way to share anatomical discovery with a larger audience without the need for an actual human dissection.
Anatomical Venuses are probably the most historically popular form of anatomical models; in the 19th-Century, they were the centerpiece of museums and itinerant shows of all kinds, and possessed great power to draw crowds. The 18th-Century Florentine Venuses are the best remembered today, in no small part due to Taschen’s Encyclopaedia Anatomica, and are considered, by some, to be the finest examples of Anatomical Venuses known to exist.
Via Morbid Anatomy