Adolph Waldau’s articulated model was used as a teaching aid for students and eye surgeons.
The secret is in their eyes according to Campanella’s film and this is the case here. The ophthalmophantome is a somewhat mesmerising model on which student doctors could try their hand at eye surgery. Not human, but pig, sheep or ox eyes were inserted in the sockets and secured by means of adjustable clamps whilst the aspiring surgeons tried out their skills. The aluminium face (once black) remains deadpan throughout.
Professor Waldau was a German ophthalmologist who studied under Von Graefe in Berlin in the late 19th Century and who was himself a pioneer in cataract surgery. There are examples of this ophthalmophantome in catalogues of Maw and Son, E B Meyrowitz and Charles Lentz all around the turn of the century. There were two models, one with a single and this one with two eyes. Purchased from an American collector the instrument is just as likely to have originated in England or Germany.