Écorchés are literally ‘flayed’ figures, which show the muscles of the body without skin. They were a popular way of displaying the body in Renaissance engravings. Three-dimensional versions were also produced throughout Europe. Originally they were life-sized models, used in medical and art academies. Small-scale versions also became collectors’ items, valued for their visual qualities. These were produced in ivory, bronze, plaster and wood, and displayed in self-consciously heroic poses.
A well-known figure, especially one by a famous sculptor, might be reproduced in miniature all over Europe.
J Clair, L’ame du corps: arts et sciences 1793 – 1993, RMN (Réunion des Musées Nationaux), (Gallimard: Électa, 1993)
M Kemp and M Wallace, Spectacular Bodies: The Art And Science Of The Human Body From Leonardo To Now (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000)