Insect model, worker bee, papier mache / metal / hair, made by Dr Auzoux, Paris, France, 1883
This model was produced by Louis Thomas Jerome Auzoux who was born in Normandy in 1797. He obtained a medical degree in 1818 and was appointed to the surgical department of the Hotel-Dieu, with celebrated Dupuytren, the 'Napoleon of surgery.' The shortage of anatomical teaching materials prompted Auzoux, a year later, to begin experimenting with making models. Models in wax were available but were very expensive. In contrast, papier mache was comparatively inexpensive, stable and able to be easily moulded. Furthermore, it was strong enough to allow each model to be taken apart to show the arrangement of organs. Noting the techniques of Parisian doll and puppet makers, Auzoux developed a paper paste, which allowed papier mache models to harden as a solid, supple, light and durable object. This improved upon the early papier mache techniques of Francois Ameline. Auzoux created models, which could be taken to pieces and reassembled, with each part labelled, showing internal anatomy. He called these models 'Anatomie clastique' and designed them for both lay and expert audiences.
In 1822 he presented a life-sized model of the human pelvis at the Academie Royale de Medicine, and from 1825 commissions from educational institutions flooded in - requesting human, botanical and veterinary models. Auzoux opened a small factory, in Saint Aubin d'Ecrosville, in 1828, soon employing 100 workers. In 1833, Auzoux established a shop in the rue du Poan in Paris. Over the next century and a half the range increased to some 600 models, the majority zoological and botanical with 100 relating to human anatomy. For many years the Auzoux family had a shop in the Rue du medecine in Paris. The shop finally closed in the 1990s and the contents were sold at auction on 22 October 1998.
The models are made with a grey paper pulp, containing granular particles and short fibres. Flax is added to the pulp for models of insect parts, veins and nerves. Auzoux used moulds made from plaster and, later, innovative anatomy moulds for the solid parts of the models. Plaster coats the outside for strength and to provide a base for the paint. The paint is protein-based egg tempera and is protected by a layer of Russian fish glue for models made before 1917, and wood varnish for models made afterwards.
The system of labelling was another of Auzoux's innovations: Labels with pointing hands and numbers show where the parts of the model may be disassembled. Anatomical names of the different model parts form a second order in the hierarchy of the anatomy. A third order is the small round numbered labels appearing on some parts, the associated description of which appeared in the accompanying catalogue.
See B.W.J. Goob, 'The Anatomical Models of Dr Louis Auzoux' A Descriptive Catalogue (Leiden: Museum Boerhaave Communication 305, 2004)
Dr Auzoux's factory in Paris produced many different animal models, including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, wild and domestic mammals, and botanical specimens. His models were popular for use in teaching and museums developed exhibits comparing the differences between botanical models, human and veterinary structures.