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Clemente Susini (1754-1814)

Clemente Susini lived and died in Florence. He originally studied art at the Royal Gallery, specialising in sculpture. In 1773 he became an apprentice in the wax modelling workshop of Florence's Museo della Specola (Observatory Museum). By 1782 he was the chief modeller, producing a huge range of human and animal models. His Medical Venus is typical of the most dramatic wax representations of female bodies. An attractive female figure is only partially dissected, and posed in a classical manner as if still alive.

Susini’s models became famous throughout Europe, and can now be found in university and museum collections throughout Italy and the rest of Europe. In contrast to many other workshops, Susini and his colleagues were named as the producers of specific models. Susini’s improved status as an artist was recognised when he became an instructor at the Academy of Art, and a judge in its student competitions. His obituary praised ‘the beauty which he gave to the most revolting things’.

 

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Bibliography

A Maerker, ‘The anatomical models of La Specola: Production, uses, and reception’, Nuncius: Journal of the History of Science, 21/2 (2006), pp 295-321

A Riva (ed.), Flesh & Wax: The Clemente Susini’s Anatomical Models in the University of Cagliari (Nuoro: Ilisso, 2007)

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