I've just returned from four fantastic days in Florence, where I had a chance to visit the somewhat undercelebrated 'La Specola' Gallery. It houses some of the most detailed anatomical wax models, dating from the 18th century and used for teaching purposes. Bodies recline on satin sheets, or enclosed in glass cases. They are all life-size and there are over 100 different individual pieces, and about 10 full size bodies.
The gallery not only contains anatomy but a few pieces of pathology, most notably a model showing different types of ectopic pregnancy.
Sculptors took up dissection in the 17th century in order to be able to accurately portray the human figure in their pieces. The intersection with art is apparent at the end of the exhibition, where we are treated to four allegorical pieces: Pestilence, The Triumph of Time, The Corruption of Bodies and The French Pox.
The exhibition alludes to the recent Bodyworlds phenomenon, without the showmanship and macabre edge.
The TimeOut guidebook I had referred to the museum as being 'suitable for children with a horror interest'. I say that this is a fascinating exhibit for any scientifically or medically interested individual, and ought to be more widely advertised.