Anatomical model, human kidney, liver and spleen, papier-mache / plaster / paint, maker unknown, 1900-1920
This object comes from a collection of anatomical teaching models transferred from the Sydney Technical College in 1894. In 1878 the New South Wales State Government provided subsides to provide scientific, technical and professional training and in 1883 a Board of Technical Education was appointed which established the Sydney Technical College.
Made during between 1850 and 1900 these models are examples of early teaching aids available to Australian students of the practical sciences.
By the early 1800s medical and scientific teaching expanded and there was an increase in demand for anatomical models. Wax which had been used to make models was replaced by other materials which were less delicate and susceptible to changes in temperature. Modellers like Tramond and Auzoux found papier-mâché more robust and it enabled them to fashion models in sections which could be removed in layers as if a real dissection were taking place.
Louis Thomas Jérome Auzoux was a French medical graduate who around 1820 visited the workshop of Ameline who had introduced papier-mâché to the modelling process. Auzoux soon learnt the process and set up a workshop in his home town of Saint Aubin d'Ecrosville in 1827. His medical background enabled him to make highly accurate models while his experiments with papier-mâché resulted in the development of a variety of finishes which incorporated plaster, fabric and glass. The other aspect of Auzoux's success was his application of moulding techniques which allowed him to re-produce his models.
A common feature of many of Auzoux's models is the use of paint on a thin plaster layer which covered the papier-mâché. Studio artists were employed to add the finishing touches using egg tempura which gave a shiny gloss to the finished work. Iron supports were included to reinforce the delicate areas of some models and metal was sometimes used to connect separate parts. This process continued to be favoured by other nineteenth century modellers such as F. Rammé of Hamburg in Germany.
New South Wales State Government Archives, http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/cguide/c4g/educ0016.htm, cited 17/11/2006.
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Geoff Barker, March, 2007