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Anna Morandi Manzolini (1716-74)

Anna Morandi was born in Bologna, at a time when the city was becoming famed for its research and teaching in natural sciences. In 1740 she married Giovanni Manzolini, an artist who had begun an apprenticeship with a wax modeller. In 1745 the couple started working together, both in the study of anatomy and its representation in wax. Morandi introduced innovations into dissection techniques in order to more accurately perceive and then portray discrete components of the body. Morandi worked both in written text and three-dimensional models. She eventually gave dissection and anatomy lessons to medical students in her home (household laboratories and classrooms were commonplace at this time).

In 1755, when she was 39, Morandi's husband died, leaving her with two children. That same year she was awarded a lifetime annual stipend by Pope Benedict XIV, in recognition of her skill. She became a member of the Academy of the Arts, which was part of the Institute of Science. In 1760 she was given the title of the Chair of Anatomical Modelling at the University of Bologna. Unusually for the time, the university encouraged female academics, and she was one of several female professors at Bologna.

As well as being in demand from the medical profession, she was also commissioned by private collectors across Europe to produce what they saw as artistic pieces. She died in 1774, but her work has continued to influence anatomical studies.

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Bibliography

N M Maraldi, G Mazzotti, L Cocco, F A Manzoli, 'Anatomical waxwork modelling: the history of the Bologna anatomy museum', The Anatomical Record: the New Anatomist, 15/261/1 (February 2000), pp 5-10

R Messbarger, ‘Waxing poetic: Anna Morandi Manzolini anatomical sculptures’, Configurations, 9/1 (2001), pp 65-97

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