Experimental neuroscience and wax modeling: The collaboration between Anna Morandi and Luigi Galvani

Sherry GINN1 and Lorenzo LORUSSO2
1Department of Psychology, Wingate University, Wingate, North Carolina, USA.  sginn AT wingate.edu
2Neurology Department, M. Mellini Hospital, Chiari, Italy.  walton AT libero.it

The use of wax medical models to help students learn both the basic and clinical disciplines became increasingly popular by the 18th century. To facilitate this training, a wax modelers’ school, commissioned by Cardinal Prospero Lambertini (later Pope Benedetto XIV), began in Bologna. Anna Morandi (1716-1774) was one of the best of these modelers. Anna Morandi had acquired considerable skill as an anatomist while working along side her husband, Giovanni Manzolini (1700-1755), continuing her modeling following Manzolini’s death. She was particularly interested in neuroanatomy, devoting much research to the various sensory organs. Her famous self-portrait in wax shows her at work on a brain.

Most well known for his experiments on “animal electricity,” Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) actually conducted most of his research in the area of comparative anatomy, studying the kidneys, sinus cavities, and ears of humans and birds. Morandi and Galvani’s interests in neuroanatomy, particularly sensory systems, led to their collaboration, with Galvani studying organ physiology while Morandi modeled the products in wax. Their fruitful collaboration also extended to obstetrics, as Galvani practiced as a physician and surgeon in addition to his position as Lecturer in Anatomy at the University of Bologna.

Poster Session
Saturday, 24 June 2006, 11.00 am - 12.30 pm

11th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Pavia, Italy, 2006