Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Joseph Towne the moulageur:

Hello there. 
For those of you who don't do well with mention of disease, I would give this post a miss.
I've actually attempted to keep the mentions of disease to a minimum in this post and concentrated on the art and history side of things, as I don't like to gross people out too much. There is no real gore in the post below, everything is a wax work or sculpture. 

British born Joseph Towne was a moulageur, stereoscopist and sculptor. He made models exclusively for Guy’s hospital in central London, and remained loyal to the hospital for as long as it remained open, with the exception of sculpting for some international clients in the USA and India.
Towne was born in Hertfordshire, and spent two years an artist’s apprentice. His first major project was constructing a to-scale human skeleton using anatomy books as his reference. Having never seen an authentic human skeleton in his life, he traveled to London where there was a Society of Arts competition in progress. There, a doctor looked over Townes work and wrote him a note of approval. He came second in the competition, and was only 17 years of age at the time. The following year he took the number one spot with his anatomical wax model of a dissected head.

Towne went on to work at Guy’s Hospital for an anatomist named Dr. Hilton and physician and scientist Thomas Addison, who taught materia medica lectures at the time. Addison discovered much pathology during his career, most famously Addison's disease and Addisonian anemia. Towne’s anatomical models were invaluable to Addison and his students, and he sculpted around 800 at Addisons request during his career at Guy’s hospital. He made 1000 of them in his life time. The wax models allowed training medics to study the symptoms and progressive effects of contagious diseases without contracting them.  

Now day, for the purpose of medical and military medical training (combat injury simulation), modern day monlageurs apply imitation inflictions and injuries to otherwise healthy subjects, usually using make-up and latex.

The website “militarymoulage” has extensive information and galleries on military moulage combat injury simulation and training. You can visit their page by clicking the link. 
This website, Moulage supplies, also gives you more of an idea of contemporary moulage techniques and uses. 

Although not often celebrated as a particularly artistic moulageur, Italian born, Baroque era sculptor Gaetano Giulio Zumbo was one of the first known anatomists. He created morbid sculptures often themed around death and disease, often looked upon as memento mori or curiosity pieces.
Examples of his work can be found at the Museum of Natural History in Florence in the La specola section of the building. A couple of examples of his work can be seen below.

(images: Wikipedia and 

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