Museo di Palazzo Poggi was founded in 1714 to house the Instituto dell Scienze of Bologna. The Anatomical and Obstetrics Collection is located at the Palazzo Poggi and includes
eerie rare 18th century anatomical wax works. Some of these wax sculptures include figures created by sculptor Ercole Lelli, (1702-1766) who was considered one of the most talented anatomical artists of his time.
In October 1742, Pope Benedict XIV commissioned The Camera della Notomia (The anatomy room) at the institute to include detailed wax anatomical models. As “figure director” at the Accademia Clementina delle Belle Arti housed in Palazzo Poggi, Lelli was responsible for planning and creating the anatomical wax figures to complete the papal commission, which included eight life-size figures: a male and female nude, and six “flayed men.”
The male and female nudes, dubbed “Adam” and “Eve”, bookend the collection. Between the nudes are the flayed men, or écorchés, whose skin and muscles are pulled away to reveal deeper layers of tissue. The final two works are a male and female skeleton, which mirror the Adam and Eve nudes. Lelli’s anatomical figures were built using real human bones wired together, and the models were sculpted in classical poses, similar to marble statues from the same period. To finish the display, Lelli had to the acquire skeletal remains from dozens of cadavers.