This essay focuses on the wax tableaus of Gaetano Giulio Zumbo (1656–1701), which represent the human body in various stages of putrefaction. Focusing on descriptions of these works in travel accounts and in fiction, this essay discusses the eighteenth-century viewer’s fascination with wax’s peculiar properties as a sculptural medium. Paradoxically, wax’s “lifelike” qualities seemed most powerful when they depicted decay’s destruction of the human form. Zumbo’s work, therefore, inspires a contemplation of the relationship between a realist aesthetics and the spectacle of corruption.