It’s hard to pick just one oddity of special creepy concern at the Musée Fragonard just outside of Paris, but the trio of fetuses dancing a jig does catch the eye. The dance team is the work of Honoré Fragonard, the 18th century anatomist who used a secret technique to turn cadavers into these “écorchés,” or flayed figures.

article-imageThree fetuses dancing a jig (courtesy le Musée Fragonard)

While the most striking of these is definitely a man charging on his horse as a tribute to Dürer’s depiction of the apocalypse, the fetuses have a playful, uncanny nature to them that’s rarely rivaled in such serious settings as medical history museums. However, Fragonard was not just any anatomist, and all of his flayed figures had a touch of the dramatic to them, as well as the oddly humorous. 

Dancing Fetus (courtesy le Musée Fragonard)

Perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that Fragonard was dismissed from his professional job for being believed to be completely insane.  Incredibly, the fetal jig trio is not the only example of Fragonard sculpting these dances of death from the dead. Here’s another from 1794 where a fetus sautés into the air, mortality be damned. 


Curious Facts of the Week: Helping you build your cocktail party conversation repertoire with a new strange fact every week, and an amazing place to explore its story. See all the Curious Facts here>