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H1732 Anatomical model, human head, wood / papier-mache / plaster / paint, maker unknown, 1850-1894. Click to enlarge.

Anatomical model of human head

Made 1850-1894
In the early 1800s medical and scientific teaching expanded and there was an increase in demand for anatomical models. Wax which had been used to make models was replaced by other materials which were less delicate and susceptible to changes in temperature. Modellers like Tramond and Auzoux found papier-mâché more robust and it enabled them to fashion models in sections which could be removed in layers as if a real dissection were taking place.

Louis Thomas Jérome Auzoux was a pioneer who introduced a new level of anatomical detail to the papier-mâché modelling process. His medical background enabled him to make highly accurate models while his experiments with papier-mâché resulted in the development of a variety of finishes which incorporated plaster, fabric and glass. He set up a workshop in his home town of Saint Aubin d'Ecrosville in 1827 where his innovative use of moulding techniques allowed him to re-produce his models.
A common feature of many of Auzoux's models is the use of paint on a thin plaster layer which covered the papier-mâché. Studio artists were employed to add the finishing touches using egg tempura which gave a shiny gloss to the finished work. Iron supports were included to reinforce the delicate areas of some models and metal was sometimes used to connect separate parts. This process continued to be favoured by other nineteenth century modellers such as F. Rammé of Hamburg in Germany.

This object comes from a collection of anatomical teaching models transferred from the Sydney Technical College in 1894. In 1878 the New South Wales State Government provided subsides to provide scientific, technical and professional training and in 1883 a Board of Technical Education was appointed which established the Sydney Technical College.

Made during the 1800s these models are examples of the teaching aids available to students during these formative years of the practical sciences in Australia.

New South Wales State Government Archives,, cited 17/11/2006.
Grob, B.W.J., 'The anatomical models of Louis Auzoux', in 'A descriptive catalogue', Colophon, Museum Boerhaave Communication 305, Leiden, Germany, 2004
Lemire, M, 'Representation of the human body: the colored wax anatomic models of the 18th and 19th centuries in the revival of medical instruction', Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy, Volume 14, 1992
Scholtz, Gerhard (2005), Better than the real thing? Models - The Third Dimension of Science.
Acta Zoologica 86 (4), 303-305, doi: 10.1111/ j.1463-6395.2005.00193.x
Chen, Joseph C. T. M.D., Ph.D.; Amar, Arun P. M.D.; Levy, Michael L. M.D.; Apuzzo, Michael L. J. M.D., 'The Development of Anatomic Art and Sciences: The Ceroplastica Anatomic Models of La Specola', Neurosurgery. 45(4):883, October 1999

Geoff Barker, March, 2007


Object No.


Object Statement

Anatomical model, human head, wood / papier-mache / plaster / paint, maker unknown, 1850-1894

Physical Description

Anatomical model, human head, wood / papier-mache / plaster / paint, maker unknown, 1850-1894

Anatomical model of a human head and shoulders made of painted plaster and papier-mache and mounted on an oval wooden base. The model shows a bisected head. One side shows the muscles, veins and nerves with a closed eye and skin covered ear, while the other side shows the skeletal structure including eyeball and teeth, with roots and nerves. Both sides of the neck and shoulders show the collar bone with muscles and veins. There are two cylindrical holes on both ends of the mount and there is some cracking to the paint all over the model.


Roman numerals and numbers are handwritten in black ink all over the exterior of the model.



350 mm


380 mm





This anatomical model was made around 1850-1894.


Credit Line

Gift of Sydney Technical College, 1894

Acquisition Date

19 December 1894

Cite this Object


Anatomical model of human head 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Anatomical model of human head |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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