Louis Auzoux, 1848. St Aubin d’Ecrosville, France.
Hand-painted papier mâché model of the human body showing the musculature, organs and circulatory system.
The Whipple Museum of the History of Science 5893
The structure and form of physical bodies has largely been determined by the dissection and separation of their parts. Until the nineteenth century, anatomy students and artists learning to see the inner structure of the body relied on the availability of human corpses, many of them the bodies of executed criminals. Various governments enacted laws to regulate the distribution and use of bodies for dissection.
In 1822 a medical doctor, Louis Auzoux, developed a robust model of the human body that could be standardised and mass-produced. He became the most important producer of anatomical models in Europe. His models came in different sizes with dozens of detachable parts, which could be easily put together according to detailed instructions.
Auzoux was a visionary and utopian, who thought that the key to human welfare was to make sure everyone knew how their own body was assembled. He portrayed his factory as a haven of industrial peace, where new technologies used to visualise the anatomical structure of the body would help to change the way the body was understood and managed.