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Ivory female anatomical figure, Italy, 1701-1730

When the torso of this ivory female anatomical figure is removed, crude representations of the internal organs are revealed. Underneath the intestines is a foetus in the uterus. Red lines have been painted on to represent the blood vessels. Female ivory anatomical models of this type were popular in the 1600s and 1700s, and were almost always shown as pregnant. They normally came as a pair with a male equivalent (see A642635). The organs are not very detailed so it is unlikely that the model was used for medical teaching. The figure was possibly made to teach young couples about anatomy and pregnancy or it may have been a collector’s item.

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Glossary: anatomical figure

Highly detailed models of the full human figure for artists, teachers and medical practitioners.

Glossary: pregnancy

The condition of having a developing unborn embryo or foetus in the body. A human pregnancy is usually of 40 weeks gestation.

Glossary: uterus

The hollow reproductive organ in female mammals. The uterus is where the foetus develops after conception. The word 'womb' is often used among non-medical people to refer to the same area.

Glossary: foetus

The name given to the embryo during the later stages of development. In human reproduction it refers to an unborn child from its eighth week of development.