Anna Morandi Manzolini

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Anna Morandi)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Anna Morandi Manzolini
Anna Manzolini2.jpg
Anna Morandi

21 January 1714
Died9 July 1774 (1774-07-10) (aged 60)
NationalityPapal States
Known forAnatomical models

Anna Morandi Manzolini (21 January 1714 – 9 July 1774) was an internationally known anatomist and anatomical wax modeler, as lecturer of anatomical design at the University of Bologna.[1]


Anna Morandi was born in 1714 in Bologna, Italy.[2] She was raised in a traditional home where marriage, children, and a domestic lifestyle were natural choices for women.[3] In 1736, she was married to her childhood sweetheart, Giovanni Manzolini, a professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna.[4] She was 20, and he was 24 years old. After five years of marriage, she was the mother of six children.[3] In 1755, her husband died, and she was left with very slender means of support. She received tempting offers from other universities, but she preferred to remain in her native city, Bologna. She closed a laborious and honored life in the city in 1774,[2] at the age of 60 years.[5]


When her husband became ill with tuberculosis, she received special permission to lecture in his place.[4] She became professor of anatomy upon his death in 1755. Knowledge of her talent in molding anatomical models spread throughout Europe and she was invited to the court of Catherine II of Russia as well as other royal courts.[4] It became her major turning point in her life. In order to learn anatomy, she had to dissect cadavers, which was extremely difficult for her, but she overcame her fears. Giovanni Manzolini was so encouraged by her and her accomplishments that he again returned to his work. They were recognized as a team by many artists, intellectuals, and anatomists in Europe. After her husband's death, she was appointed Lecturer in Anatomy in her own name by the Institute of Bologna.


Anna partnered with her husband, and then surpassed him in skill after his death in 1755 in the scientific knowledge of human anatomy as well as the accurate demonstration of anatomy in wax sculpture. During her famed household lectures on anatomy given before medical practitioners and grand tourists alike, she imparted expert knowledge of empirical anatomy derived from the dissection of, by her own account, of more than 1,000 cadavers, as well as of anatomical discoveries the couple and she alone made. She clearly demonstrated, both theoretically and practically, the wonderful structure of the human body.[5]

She also crafted two portrait busts in wax, both of which are currently on display at the Palazzo Poggi in Bologna. One is a self-portrait, in which she depicts herself at work dissecting a human brain; the other is of her husband, engaged in similar activity.[4][6] Her wax models were highly prized while she was alive and long after her death. Some of her anatomical models were so skillfully molded that they were extremely difficult to distinguish from the actual body parts from which they were copied. Furthermore, her acute skill at dissection resulted in her discovery of several previously unknown anatomical parts, including the termination of the oblique muscle of the eye. She held the distinction of having been the first person to reproduce (in wax) body parts of minute portions, including capillary vessels and nerves.[3]

Supellex Manzoliniana[edit]


Her collection of wax models was known throughout Europe as Supellex Manzoliniana and was eagerly sought after to aid in the study of anatomy. Her work became the archetype of such models as the Vassourie collection and the creations of Dr. Auzoux made from papier mache, which were the forerunners of those used in today's schools and colleges. A collection of her models was acquired by the Medical Institute of Bologna and is housed at the Institute of Science in Bologna.[7] Her wax self-portrait showing her dissecting a human brain was placed from 1776 in the anatomy museum of the Institute of Sciences in Palazzo Poggi alongside her wax bust of her husband Giovanni Manzolini. They were returned to the Poggi in 2000.


– The title of Professor of Anatomy by the Institute of Bologna, 1756[3]
– The added title of Modelatrice by the Institute of Bologna, 1760[3]
– Honored by numerous heads of state[3]
– Emperor Joseph II of Austria bought one of her models and showed his appreciation of her skill and attainments[8]
– Catherine II of Russia invited her to Moscow to lecture and made her a member of the Russian Royal Scientific Association[8]
– The British Royal Scoiety elected her a member and invited her to lecture in London[8]
– Honored in Italy as the inventor and perfecter of anatomical preparations in wax[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Messbarger, Rebecca; Findlen, Paula (2007). The Contest for Knowledge: Debates over Women's Learning in Eighteenth-Century Italy. University of Chicago Press. p. 9.
  2. ^ a b Messbarger, Rebecca (2010). The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-52081-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Grinstein, Louise S. (1997). Women in the Biological Sciences: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 307.
  4. ^ a b c d Grinstein, Louise S., ed. (1997). Women in the Biological Sciences: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook (1st publ. ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 307–309. ISBN 978-0313291807.
  5. ^ a b Samuelson, James (1881). The Journal of Science, and Annals of Astronomy, Biology, Geology, Industrial Arts, Manufactures, and Technology. 18. J. Churchill and Sons. p. 64.
  6. ^ "Anna Morandi Manzolini's wax self-portrait". Himetop. 2008. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  7. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science V2. New York: Routledge. p. 841. ISBN 978-0-415-92038-4.
  8. ^ a b c d Stanley, Autumn (1995). Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology. Rutgers University Press. p. 104.

Further reading[edit]

  • Messbarger, Rebecca (2010). The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-52081-0.

External links[edit]