The wax-making workshop was active for almost a century in Florence, from 1771 until the second half of the nineteenth century. The Florentine school has left with a patrimony of 513 urns containing wax models of human anatomy for a total of 1,400 pieces, 65 urns of comparative anatomy and over 400 botanical wax models. The collections feature also five seventeenth-century wax figures by Gaetano Zumbo, one of the most popular waxwork artists in the world.
The wax masters worked the wax reproducing whole figures, anatomical parts and other models, starting from a plaster cast, sometimes using also full-wax technique. The main tool of the trade was beeswax, worked together with other substances (Chinese wax, turpentine, etc). Once the wax was melted, the dyes were added - including gold powder - to obtain the right shades.
The workshop created numerous works on commission from private individuals and museums: the works thus disseminated to Cagliari, Bologna, Pisa, Pavia, Modena, Budapest, Leiden, Montpellier and Vienna.
And precisely in Vienna is housed the most important collection after the Florentine one (1,200 pieces), commissioned by the Emperor of Austria Joseph II for the Josephinum Military Medical School. Montpellier and not Paris - for unknown historical reasons - holds the 40 chests of waxworks commissioned by Napoleon.