By Martina Tanga

Today is the birth anniversary of anatomist and anatomical wax modeler Anna Morandi Manzolini. Born January 21st, 1714 in Bologna, Morandi studied drawing and sculpture with artists Giuseppe Pedretti and Francesco Monti. artistically talented and scientifically minded, she met Giovanni Manzolini, professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna’s famous medical school, and began to use her skills to create anatomical wax renditions. The two married in the 1730s and had six children. But their partnership extended beyond the home, as Morandi worked with her husband at the University creating anatomical wax models. For this, she needed an accurate knowledge of the human anatomy that could only be learnt by dissecting countless cadavers. When her husband became ill with tuberculosis, Morandi taught his anatomy courses in his stead, and when he died in 1755, she became – most unusually for the time – full professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna. Morandi became the most acclaimed anatomical sculptress of the Enlightenment: she was invited to the court of Catherine II of Russia and the Royal Academy of London. Her life and work has been recently the subject of historian Rebecca Messbarger’s memoire entitled: The Lady Anatomist: the Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini.

Self-Portrait with Opened Scull, Science Musuem, London

Wax model of an Ear, University of Bologna

Wax model of hands, University of Bologna

Wax model of an open mouth, University of Bologna

Anna Morandi and Giovanni Manzolini, muscles of the forearm, University of Bologna

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