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May 2015

Moulage: The Decaying Art of Dermatology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida
JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(5):480. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.5349

In 19th-century Europe, leading minds of cutaneous disease flocked to the world’s great hubs of medical learning—London, Paris, and Vienna—to celebrate the rise of dermatological moulage. Here, hapless victims of dermatoses were extracted from the clinics of famed European physicians for plaster casting. Moulers poured hot wax into the plaster molds, then shaped and adorned the waxen figurines with real hair, glass eyes, and precisely detailed paintings to create lifelike, 3-dimensional models of disease. Early moulers were highly secretive, safeguarding their methods and materials while refusing apprentices. But with the rise of international acceptance of dermatovenereology as a distinct institution in the latter half of the 19th century, demand for moulage as a clinical teaching instrument grew with unseen precedence.

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