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Ivory female anatomical figure, Germany, 1601-1700

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Posed as if asleep, the torso of this ivory female anatomical figure is removable, showing internal organs such as the lungs, intestines, heart and kidneys. Some of the blood vessels have been painted in. The intestines can also be removed to show a foetus, ready to be born. Within the anatomical tradition, female models have almost always been shown as pregnant. This type of small ivory model normally came as a pair with a male equivalent. The organs are not very detailed so it is unlikely that the model was used for medical teaching. The figure was possibly used to teach young couples about anatomy and pregnancy, or it may have been a collector’s item.

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Glossary: anatomical figure

Highly detailed models of the full human figure for artists, teachers and medical practitioners.

Glossary: pregnancy

The condition of having a developing unborn embryo or foetus in the body. A human pregnancy is usually of 40 weeks gestation.

Glossary: foetus

The name given to the embryo during the later stages of development. In human reproduction it refers to an unborn child from its eighth week of development.