19th Century Papier-Mâché Fetal Skull


  • £1,340
  • €1,495 Euro
  • $1,431 US Dollar


DC Member since 2020
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19th Century Papier-Mâché Fetal Skull

In the 19th century, medical students, nurses in training and researchers did not always have the bodies of deceased persons available for anatomical and physiological study. During the 18th century, anatomical models in coloured wax were already made to overcome this deficiency. A century later, the French clinician, Dr Louis Thomas Jérôme Auzoux (1797-1880) continued to produce wax models for medical teaching and gradually introduced anatomical models in paper mâché. These paper models were produced in a factory in St. Aubin d’Ecrosville. The paper mâché models were certainly more durable than their wax predecessors, and they were also more suited for mass production. In addition, the paper mâché anatomical models could be marked with numbers that corresponded with explanations in study guides. During the 19th century, there was a special interest in models concerning embryonic and fetal development. The anatomy collection of Cambridge shows that the bodies of fetuses and babies were highly valued as sources of knowledge. Whereas dissected adults were frequently reburied after dissection, the skeletal remains of fetuses and children were carefully kept for further study and were used as teaching aids. Adults' skulls usually underwent a craniotomy (they were opened by using a saw), but the skulls of fetuses and infants were often kept in one piece. Although this fetal skull is unsigned, it could be a non-commercialized prototype by Dr Auzoux. The quality and accuracy of this skull and the subtle and delicate details make this life-sized example very special. It is a scarce example with an unpainted finish and amazing patina.


  • H: 9cm (3.54in)
  • W: 15cm (5.91in)


19th Century

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For COLLECTIT! by SPECTANDUM owner Guy Kuypers, the history of his collecting began at the Porte de Clignancourt in Paris with a Napoleon III case filled with Exotic Birds. The colorful birds piqued my imagination and became the beginning of a passion for Natural History, Ethnography, European Works of Art, Antiquities and Curiosities that drive me on all continents, looking for fascinating and rare objects. Whether they are natural or man-made, all have an interesting story to tell.

So, it is finally in this spirit that the collection, which encompasses Natural History, Tribal Art, Paintings, Sculptures and Curiosities from many cultures and periods in history finds its rationale and its roots.

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