The Lady Anatomist
The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini
Anna Morandi Manzolini (1714-74), a woman artist and scientist, surmounted meager origins and limited formal education to become one of the most acclaimed anatomical sculptors of the Enlightenment. The Lady Anatomist tells the story of her arresting life and times, in light of the intertwined histories of science, gender, and art that complicated her rise to fame in the eighteenth century.
Examining the details of Morandi’s remarkable life, Rebecca Messbarger traces her intellectual trajectory from provincial artist to internationally renowned anatomical wax modeler for the University of Bologna’s famous medical school. Placing Morandi’s work within its cultural and historical context, as well as in line with the Italian tradition of anatomical studies and design, Messbarger uncovers the messages contained within Morandi’s wax inscriptions, part complex theories of the body and part poetry. Widely appealing to those with an interest in the tangled histories of art and the body, and including lavish, full-color reproductions of Morandi’s work, The Lady Anatomist is a sophisticated biography of a true visionary.
“In The Lady Anatomist, Rebecca Messbarger shakes the dust of historical neglect from Anna Morandi Manzolini’s life and reclaims for her the international renown she enjoyed in the eighteenth century. Uncovering Morandi’s innovations in the realm of experimental anatomy, Messbarger analyzes the learned lady anatomist’s provocative representations of particular body parts in wax within a nuanced cultural history of Bologna's scientific institutions. The Lady Anatomist is a story that needs to be told, filled with new, wonderful, and compelling material.” —Londa Schiebinger, author of Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science
“This astonishing and greatly informative account . . . paints a rich canvas of the political, cultural, and scientific life of eighteenth-century Italy and Bologna specifically. . . . May this work have many readers!”
“Rebecca Messbarger’s Lady Anatomist is a wonderful, richly illustrated book. . . . Not only has Messbarger come up with new material on Morandi’s life, she also successfully manages to combine this with recent historiographical discussions on the importance of materiality and of doing hands-on science. . . . [The Lady Anatomist] offers a rich and valuable insight into eighteenth-century anatomical practices.”
“The Lady Anatomist is nonetheless a pathbreaking book and a major contribution to the histories of science, women and art. Beautifully written, thoroughly documented, and wonderfully illustrated, it is a pleasure to read.”
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Changing the Angle of Vision
1 The Pope’s Anatomy Museum
2 Professing Anatomy
4 The Lady Anatomist
5 Esse est Percipi: Hands and Eyes
6 Beneath the Fig Leaf: The Male Reproductive System and Genitalia
7 Cessio ac Venditio: The Final Years and the End of an Age