Production of wax anatomical models began in the eighteenth century for educational purposes and reached its peak at the end of the nineteenth century. Various artists represented in the Edell collection in printed works, such as Ercole Lelli and Antonio Serantoni, were famous for modeling anatomy in wax. Models made for teaching purposes were usually life size and produced in an ultra-realistic style, depicting a figure in restful repose. Typically real human hair was applied. Some life-size anatomical models were made for teaching in medical schools. Others were made for more popular educational purposes. In the nineteenth century, with Victorian standards discouraging undress, commercial museums of anatomy were also probably the only place that most people could see realistic models of the nude body. In these anatomical museums there were often attractive portrayals of women's reproductive systems together with vivid and terrifying examples of the ravages of venereal and other diseases. These private museums were often operated by self-proclaimed doctors who would offer their services for the treatment of venereal disease, sexual complaints, or other symptoms that visitors to the museum might have after they viewed the museum. The following four lots come from the collection of anatomical models formed at the end of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth century by the Swiss painter, Leonce Schiffman. It was inherited by Lily Binda, and sold by William Bonardo at Christie's South Kensington in 2001. As a private collection of wax medical models in the twentieth century, the Schiffman-Binda-Bonardo collection was probably unique. Presumably rescued by Schiffman from defunct medical museums, the collection made its way to Switzerland during World War I, its transport van used as a cover for the German secret service. For years Schiffman exhibited it around Switzerland, willing the collection on his death to Lily Binda, a traveling carnivalist and exhibitor of physical anomalies, otherwise known as "freak-shows." When Europe-wide laws put an end to circus "freak-shows" in the 1960s Binda and her partner Bonardo toured the wax museum around the fairgrounds of Europe, as an exhibition of the "Mysteries of Human Life." Though by this time the models had lost most of the reference value they would have originally had for medical education, their life-size value for popular health education remained. Visitors who paid to see the carnival exhibition were sometimes surprised by their message. As Lilly Benda explained to a journalist in the 1970's, "One did not come in order to laugh. It was a serious attraction. I saw men enter blind drunk, and leave stone-cold sober." The following four lots are rare opportunities to collect wax medical models from the world of medical museums over one hundred years ago.[WAX ANATOMICAL MODEL]. Germany, 19th century. Length of figure 25 inches. Provenance: William Bonardo (his sale Christie's South Kensington, 13 December 2001, lot 46).
[WAX ANATOMICAL MODEL]. Germany, 19th century. Length of figure 25 inches. Provenance: William Bonardo (his sale Christie's South Kensington, 13 December 2001, lot 46). CONSUMPTION: 1. The larynx. 2. The thyroid gland. 3. The trachea. 4. The heart. 5. The aorta. 6. The three arteries which supply head and eyes with blood. 7. The left lung. 8. The right lung; the upper part has been removed to reveal the tubercles that block up the alveoli, so that no air can be absorbed anymore. 9. Dissected major air vessels. 10. The diaphragm, which supports the chest from the abdomen. 11. The liver, folded back to reveal the stomach and duodenum. 12. The gall bladder. 13. The spleen. 14. The stomach. 15. The duodenum, opened up for examination. 16. Orifices through which saliva and gall enter the stomach. 17. The two nerves. The numbers refer directly to labels on model.