Anatomical Model of a Man

Anatomical Model of a Man

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People have always sought better ways to illustrate and understand the structure and functions of the internal body. Before the discovery of x-rays in 1895, the only practical way to see inside the human body was to observe an operation or a dissection. Cultural and religious beliefs about dissection often made the practice illegal, and even when dissection was acceptable, cadavers were difficult to obtain.
Moreover, lack of refrigeration meant that bodies decayed swiftly. Dissections had to be performed during the cooler months, and were impossible in warmer climates. Frustrated in his studies, a young French medical student devised an elegant solution—papier-mâché anatomical models.
Louis Thomas Jerôme Auzoux (1797-1880), a French physician, improved and popularized anatomical papier-mâché models. As a medical student in the early 19th century, Auzoux found it difficult to study anatomy when the human cadavers he was dissecting deteriorated rapidly and wax models were not readily available.
He began creating anatomical models, inspired by papier-mâché dolls, boxes, and other household items then popular in Europe. In 1822, the same year Auzoux received his medical degree, he presented his first complete anatomical male figure to the Paris Academy of Medicine. Five years later, he opened a factory to manufacture human, veterinary, and botanical models.
This life size dissectible anatomical model of a human male has 25 dissectible parts and over 2,000 details. Directions for dissecting Auzoux's larger models came with each specimen. Major organs, bones and muscles are identified and labeled in French. A number, accompanied by a hand pasted onto the model, indicates that the piece can be detached. Smaller numbers and letters correspond to each represented detail.
Currently not on view
Object Name
model, anatomical, man
anatomical model
model, anatomical, torso piece
date made
Etablissements du Docteur Auzoux
Place Made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
overall, torso (removeable outer): 6 ft x 13 in x 22 1/2 in; 1.8288 m x 33.02 cm x 57.15 cm
overall: 198.12 cm x 58 cm x 58 cm; 78 in x 22 13/16 in x 22 13/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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