Anna Morandi Manzolini

Italian, 1716-1774

Anna is one of several artists featured in Our Foremothers for whom science and art intersect. Anna produced life-sized wax models (similar to the plastic models in modern doctors’ offices) of human anatomy, including muscles and organs, as teaching tools. She used these at her home where she taught anatomy and dissection. Her ongoing studies eventually led to her to become the Chair of Anatomical Modeling at the University of Bologna. Jane’s painting is based on a wax model that Anna produced of herself dissecting a human brain. Our historical view of Anna, in Jane’s interpretation, does not include the entire image of the artist, dissecting and teaching about human anatomy. This portion of Anna’s work is stressed in the negative space of Jane’s painting by the inclusion of images of wax models, rendered by Anna, of the hand and the muscles of the eye. This portrait of Anna, seen here with the objects of her vocation, conveys the high level of education combining art and anatomy that she attained in 18th-century Italy.

Original Works Referenced

François-Hubert Drouais
Portrait of Madame Drouais
c. 1758
Musée du Louvre