This article analyses some of the anatomical waxes in the Museo della Specola in Florence. Executed in at least two different periods in the history of Florentine wax modelling (in the late 17th century and between the 18th and 19th centuries), they project culturally determined images of the body which are analysed from a historico-semiotic perspective. “Rotten corpses,” a “disembowelled woman” and a “flayed man” emerge as salient figures in the collection and reveal the close tie between anatomical representations and aesthetics, social relations and religious scruples, in other words, the culture tout court which produced them.

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Author notes

Francesco Paolo de Ceglia received a degree in philosophy (1995) and Ph. D. in history of science (2001). He studied in Italy, France, Germany, United States and Russia. At present he is researcher and teaches history of science and media economics at the Universities of Bari and Foggia (Italy). His research concerns: 1) mathematics and philosophy in the seventeenth century; 2) medicine and theology in the eighteenth century; 3) Science communication. Among his publications are four books: Reazioni romane. L'idraulica galileiana negli scritti di Giovanni Bardi e Giuseppe Biancani (Bari, 1997); De natantibus. Una disputa ai confini tra filosofia e matematica nella toscana medicea (1611–1615) (Bari, 1999); Introduzione alla fisiologia di Georg Ernst Stahl (Lecce, 2000); Scienziati e scienza di Puglia (Bari 2007).