Apollo Ecorché and the Salvage’s Innovation

One of the most important anatomical studies applied on the arts belongs to Jean-Galbert Salvage (Saint Flour 1772 – Lavastrie 1813) that published it on 1812. The title of the illustrated book is: Anatomie du Gladiateur Combattant, applicable aux Beaux arts, ou, Traité des os, des muscles, du mécanisme des movements, des proportions et des caractères du corps humain. It is an extraordinary study and explanation of human anatomy and at the same time an important treatise of medical science. The choice of the statue of the Borghese Gladiator is not casual but responds to a number of criteria. First of all it’s importance is the iconography: the statue is an example of canonical representation of the classic male virility. The body responds to the neoclassical model of that time,  widely represented in sculpture as in painting. Lot of plaster casts of the Gladiator, in various sizes, were widespread in the artist’s studios and in the academies. Also the particular position of the body suggests a number of interesting points of view of the muscles under tension. On 1803 Salvage required a cast of the statue at the Musée Napoléon that manufactured it for sale. After a series of delays tha cast was shipped to Salvage for free. Salvage revoked the cast modeling it as an écorché according to his studies of human dissections and on 1804 the model was ended and displayed at the Salon of the Musée Napoléon. Anatomie du Gladiateur Combatant as an atlas of great quality and very useful.
In this way Salvage, who was a medical and worked in a hospital for the past eight years, made his debut as artist. A wide success and general approval were immediate, Salvage received subsidy to complete his initial project. Also cast reductions and drawings of his studies on the Gladiator were commissioned. The success of his project came partly because none of the current anatomical studies, available to artists at that time, was so thorough in the topic so the modern scholars qualify.
By 1800 artists commonly practiced process used by the surgeon-anatomist involving autopsy, dissection, embalming and direct casting from human body parts.
Flayed cadavers or their parts thus became the basis for life casts. Salvage was not content to simply make drawigns from cadavers dissected or from models posing as his predecessors; his innovative idea was to place a dead body dissected in the exactly position of the statue to be studied. Such as the one used to make many drawings for his book and the plaster cast of  Cadavre Ecorché dans l’attitude du Gladiateur Combattant (1800 circa) currently preserved at the Ecòle des Beaux Arts in Paris (unfortunately damaged by flood of 1910). 
Since 1700 were conducted numerous anatomical studies of the most important classical statues, just like deepening study of anatomy applied to the arts. The same Salvage continued his studies in 1806 and presented at the Salon of sculpture two plaster busts representing the Apollo Belvedere Ecorché, one écorché and the other deep écorché on the left side and reduced to the bone on the right side.
But this time people thought that the plasters were not an interpretation after the cast of the original marble, but rather the busts were obtained from casts of dissected bodies. It is interesting to note that these, which were originally only a preparatory stage, end up taking more importance than the sculpture. The two Salvage’s busts écorché were included in the cast catalog of the famous Atelier Desachy of Paris.

From these studies I received remarkable inspiration to repeat the Salvage’s experience on the bust of Apollo of Belvedere present in collection.

So, I modeled a reduction with a study of superficial écorché in comparison with the complete head of Apollo. Also a study of the skull as third step in comparison with the same complete head of Apollo.

This serie is particularly useful as a study reference in drawing and modeling the portrait.