Some of Leonardo da Vincis most interesting drawings are his studies of the human body with the skin removed showing the muscles and tendons. The renaissance theorist Alberti recommended that an artist should first arrange the muscles and bones and only after add the skin.
For centuries the dissection of the human body was both taboo and illegal and anatomical studies and models were produced to cater for the demand from artists and medical students in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The term Ecorche means "flayed" and figures bearing this term were first produced in France in the nineteenth century for use in artist academies.
Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828) became a professor at the Acaemie Royale in 1771. He created an important anatomical study known as the ecorche or "flayed" figure.. This was replicated and used in many art schools.
Edouard Lanteri was born in France in 1848 but became a British citizen and taught at the Royal College of Art. Professor Lanteri required his students to study plaster casts of classical and renaissance masterpieces and he produced a series of ecorche figures to supplement these studies.
Shown here is professor Lanteri, a cast from his 1902 catalogue and an example c1900 at Tales from the rookery.