Madame Tussaud and her Wax Museum: Art, Curiosity, International Sensation

Madame Tussaud's, London

Madame Tussaud's, London

Amazing Facts About Madame Tussaud and her Wax Museum

 

  • Madame “Marie” Tussaud (born Anna Maria Grosholtz in Strasbourg, France) was an artist known for her wax sculptures and the wax museum she founded in London.

    Madame Tussaud - Self Portrait

    Madame Tussaud - Self Portrait

  • Her father, a soldier named Joseph Grosholtz, was killed in the Seven Years’ War just two months before Marie was born.
  • Her mother, Anne-Marie Walder, took her to Bern where she moved to work as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius. There she took the Swiss nationality.
  • Curtius was a physician, and was skilled in wax modelling, which he used to illustrate Anatomy. Later, he started to do portraits. Tussaud called him uncle.
  • Curtius moved to Paris in 1765, starting work to set up a cabinet de cire . In that year he made a waxwork of Louis XV’s last mistress, Madame du Barry, a cast of which is the oldest work currently on display.
  • In 1767, Tussaud and her mother joined Curtius and also moved to Paris.
  • The first exhibition of Curtius’ waxworks was shown in 1770, and attracted a big crowd. In 1776, the exhibition moved to the Palais Royal and, in 1782, Curtius opened a second exhibit, the Caverne des Grands Voleurs, a precursor to the later Chamber of horrors, on Boulevard du Temple.
  • Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling; she showed a lot of talent and started to work for him.
  • In 1778, she created her first wax figure, that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
  • Madame Tussaud was imprisoned during the French Revolution and made death masks of executed nobles
  • She eventually inherited Phillippe Curtius’ wax exhibition and for the first time took her exhibition on tour in the British Isles in 1795.
  •  Madame Tussaud’s Wax Exposition in London debuted on April 26th, 1928.
  • Before modern times when news was communicated largely by word of mouth, Madame Tussaud’s exhibition was a kind of traveling newspaper providing an insight into international events and bringing people face to face with people in the headlines.
  • It takes six months, more than 250 precise measurements and photographs, 2,400 lbs of wax and $45,000 to make each of Madame Tussaud’s wax portraits.
  • Each strand of hair is inserted individually, taking approximately five weeks to complete each head.
  • Two maintenance teams inspect and primp each figure daily before the museum opens.
  • To add authenticity to the portraits at Madame Tussaud’s New York, many artifacts have been donated from the celebrity or purchased from auctions.
  • All portraits have their hair washed and make-up retouched regularly.
  • All celebrities’ vital statistics are kept confidential, despite repeated requests from the public and media.
  • Because wax shrinks, was figures are made two percent larger than the real life subjects they portray.
  • Dating back to the early 1900, members of the British Royal Family have routinely participated in sittings for portraits by Madame Tussaud’s. This tradition continues today, including a sitting with Diana, Princess of Wales just months before she died.
  • More than 500 million people worldwide have visited a Madame Tussaud’s, that’s more than the population of North America and Australia combined.
  • Currently, over 2.5 million people a year visit Madame Tussaud’s, mingling with celebrities of all types, from sports heroes like Muhammad Ali to Hollywod celebrities like Marilyn Monroe to models like Naomi Campbell and politicians like Bill Clinton.
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