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1148 Insect model, queen bee, papier mache / metal, made by Dr Auzoux, Paris, France, 1883. Click to enlarge.

Model of a queen bee

This is a papier mache model of a queen bee made in France by Dr Auzoux and purchased by the Museum. In May 1883 the then curator, Joseph Maiden, spent the then substantial sum of 212 pounds on model bees and honeycomb. Made by the Paris workshop of Dr Auzoux, they could be taken apart to show their internal workings. The models formed part of a large display demonstrating methods of bee keeping and processing honey and beeswax.

The bees remained on show for many years. In the 1930s during …


Object No.


Object Statement

Insect model, queen bee, papier mache / metal, made by Dr Auzoux, Paris, France, 1883

Physical Description

Model of an adult Queen bee made from papier mache and metal. The bee is painted black and dark brown with orange horizontal lines on the body and orange shading on the face and legs. The abdomen opens backwards, by a metal hook, to show the inner organs including intestines, which are painted pink, white and green. The head features two black antennae with white stripes, folded downwards and light brown eyes with black spots. There are two pairs of wings folded backwards that contain brown wire veining and transparent film, which is slightly damaged. Underneath the bee are more orange lines and a small gold hook attached to the breast.



50 mm


120 mm



This model was produced by Louis Thomas Jerome Auzoux who was born in Normandy in 1797. He obtained a medical degree in 1818 and was appointed to the surgical department of the Hotel-Dieu, with celebrated Dupuytren, the 'Napoleon of surgery.' The shortage of anatomical teaching materials prompted Auzoux, a year later, to begin experimenting with making models. Models in wax were available but were very expensive. In contrast, papier mache was comparatively inexpensive, stable and able to be easily moulded. Furthermore, it was strong enough to allow each model to be taken apart to show the arrangement of organs. Noting the techniques of Parisian doll and puppet makers, Auzoux developed a paper paste, which allowed papier mache models to harden as a solid, supple, light and durable object. This improved upon the early papier mache techniques of Francois Ameline. Auzoux created models, which could be taken to pieces and reassembled, with each part labelled, showing internal anatomy. He called these models 'Anatomie clastique' and designed them for both lay and expert audiences.

In 1822 he presented a life-sized model of the human pelvis at the Academie Royale de Medicine, and from 1825 commissions from educational institutions flooded in - requesting human, botanical and veterinary models. Auzoux opened a small factory, in Saint Aubin d'Ecrosville, in 1828, soon employing 100 workers. In 1833, Auzoux established a shop in the rue du Poan in Paris. Over the next century and a half the range increased to some 600 models, the majority zoological and botanical with 100 relating to human anatomy. For many years the Auzoux family had a shop in the Rue du medecine in Paris. The shop finally closed in the 1990s and the contents were sold at auction on 22 October 1998.

The models are made with a grey paper pulp, containing granular particles and short fibres. Flax is added to the pulp for models of insect parts, veins and nerves. Auzoux used moulds made from plaster and, later, innovative anatomy moulds for the solid parts of the models. Plaster coats the outside for strength and to provide a base for the paint. The paint is protein-based egg tempera and is protected by a layer of Russian fish glue for models made before 1917, and wood varnish for models made afterwards.

The system of labelling was another of Auzoux's innovations: Labels with pointing hands and numbers show where the parts of the model may be disassembled. Anatomical names of the different model parts form a second order in the hierarchy of the anatomy. A third order is the small round numbered labels appearing on some parts, the associated description of which appeared in the accompanying catalogue.

See B.W.J. Goob, 'The Anatomical Models of Dr Louis Auzoux' A Descriptive Catalogue (Leiden: Museum Boerhaave Communication 305, 2004)



Dr Auzoux's factory in Paris produced many different animal models, including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, wild and domestic mammals, and botanical specimens. His models were popular for use in teaching and museums developed exhibits comparing the differences between botanical models, human and veterinary structures.


Credit Line

Purchased 1883

Acquisition Date

11 May 1883

Cite this Object


Model of a queen bee 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 3 February 2023, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Model of a queen bee |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=3 February 2023 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}