Last month I wrote about using plaster, sometimes referred to as Plaster of Paris, to make hand prints and life or death masks - http://www.hhhistory.com/2016/01/preserved-in-plaster.html.
This month, I polled friends about their knowledge of wax figures and without exception they named Madame Tussauds and the historical figures they'd like to see. When you think of Madame Tussaud do you think of wax figures, too?
French artist Marie Grosholtz Tussaud (1761—1850) was born in Strasbourg, France, and became known for her wax sculptures through the wax museum she founded in London.
|Marie Grosholtz Tussard (1761-1850)|
My favorites are the Marvel Super Heroes at Madame Tussauds New York (the apostrophe is no longer used). The wax replicas of politicians, celebrities, and historical figures are so realistic that a selfie with sculptures looks in real time.
In January's post I mentioned the process of rubbing oil on the face and inserting straws in the nostrils before applying the plaster to the living faces.
I discovered that Madame Tussaud used the same process make a mold of faces that will later be rendered in wax. Pomade in the hair and oil on the face prevented the plaster from sticking to the living skin.
We often think of wax figures created during the French Revolution as a simple representation of a person's face, but while the bodies were made from wood or leather, they were clothed in the latest fashions. This practice goes back to Dr. Philippe Curtius (1741-1794) when he opened his cabinet de portraits en cire (wax portrait exhibition) in Paris in 1765.
His first exhibition of waxworks was shown in 1770. From the viewers' perspective, the most important detail of his wax models was how they were dressed. Women all over France, England, and neighboring countries visited his Salon to see Marie Antoinette's favorite dress made by her personal stylist, Rose Bertin or Madame du Barry in all her finery. They wanted to see what the fashion cognoscenti were wearing.
|Marie Antoinette, Dauphine of France|
|Jeanne du Barry by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, 1781|
|Sleeping Beauty—Tussaud Wax Sculpture|
|Madame de Pompadour by François Boucher, 1759|
In 1777, Marie created her first man wax figure—French writer François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume as Voltaire.
|Voltaire in wax —Madame Tussauds-London|
When Curtius died in 1794, he willed his vast collection to Marie. In 1795, she married François Tussaud and had two children.
In 1802, Marie accepted an invitation from Paul Philidor, a magic lantern and phantasmagoria pioneer, to exhibit her collection of portraits alongside his show at the Lyceum Theatre in London. She spent the next 33 years traveling around Europe before establishing a permanent exhibit on the upper floor of the Baker Street Bazaar, London, in 1836. One of her main attractions was the Chamber of Horrors, which included head modeled from Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Robespierre, and Maame Lambelle. This exhibit included victims of the French Revolution, murderers, and other criminals. Some of the figures done by Marie herself still exist.
Her self-portrait completed in 1842 is on display at the entrance of the London museum.
|Anne-Marie "Marie" Grosholtz Tussaud|
|Madame Tussauds-London, 1935, E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection|
|Bernard Tussaud finishes Duke of Gloucester & Lady Alice Scott, 1935|
Madame Tussards Wedding Chapel—Las Vegas
|Madame Tussauds—New York|
The history - https://www.madametussauds.co.uk/london/en/about/our-history/ and time lines are fascinating. I wish I had the time and space to highlight more about this interesting woman.
|Marie Tussaud - Artist in Wax|
|Linda Farmer Harris|
Turning Tidbits of History into Unforgettable Stories
Lin and her husband, Jerry, live on a ranch in Chimney Rock, Colorado. She writes historical fiction for adults and children. Her novella The Lye Water Bride is included in the California Gold Rush Romance Collection (Barbour Publishing, August 2016).
|Lye Water Bride - Linda Farmer Harris|