A mother’s 200-year-old gift to anatomy.
“The woman in labor has no name. She must have had one at some point, but as bad luck would have it, she was hit and killed by a carriage as she walked in front of the San Carlos Royal College of Surgery, back in 18th-century Madrid.
Nobody claimed the body, whose round belly contained a child about to be born. It was quite a windfall for the surgeons in training at the school, which was always short of corpses on which to learn anatomy.
The body handlers proceeded according to customs of the era: mud was applied and a mold created; this mold was filled with wax, and today it remains the most striking sculpture of those at the Complutense University School of Medicine. She is a Pietá lying back against a chair with her belly sliced open like a pomegranate and the fetus exposed, its little head pointing down. She is a life-like, life-size wax statue.”