So Smugglerius lived for a very long time in a cupboard the bowels of ECA, where he was occasionally trundled out for anatomy lessons. At the moment he is the centrepiece of an exhibition called “Smugglerius Unveiled” by artist Joan Smith and ethnographer Jeanne Cannizzo. (click here for later Smugglerius post)
He is the cast of a flayed man or éscorché (a figure with skin and fat removed to expose the muscles and tendons). The original bronze cast is lost but 2 plaster copies remain, one in London in the Royal academy and the other here in Edinburgh. Through research for this show, it has been deduced that Smugglerius was most likely to be James Langar who was hanged for highway robbery in London in 1776.
When his body came to the attention of noted surgeon and anatomist William Hunter (who incidentally trained at Edinburgh University) for dissection, he decided that he was such a fine physical specimen of mankind that he would have him cast for teaching purposes.
So 234 years later I find myself in an anatomy class drawing, (badly), the aforementioned James Langar. He is gory, strangely poignant and very human, for example they left his belly button in the cast, and he also has a very broken nose. Incidentally the skill of anatomy drawing just like riding a bicycle can be forgotten as i have found out to my cost…
On the figure you can see the marks of the sections in which his body was cast, but how on earth did they manipulate and keep his body in this classical “dying gaul” pose with all the correct muscle tension etc?
cast of the dying gaul also from ECA collection (Roman copy of Greek original form 3rd cent BC)
His pseudo classical nickname by the way was given to him in the 19th century by royal academy students.