Over the decades, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum has revolutionized wax figures as exhibits around the world. The museum was founded in London in 1835 by French wax sculptor Marie Tussaud.
Today, museums in several major cities around the world are famous for making wax replicas of some of the world’s most famous people.
One in London attracts over 2.5 million visitors each year. That is why the popularity of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is now unmatched when it comes to wax museums alone.
The world already knows a lot about exhibits around the world. But little-known information about the museum’s founder may come as a shock to many.
Anna Maria “Marie” Tussaud was born in 1761 into a family of public executioners. Her father, Joseph Groscholz, died in the Seven Years’ War just two months before Marie was born.
Philippe Curtius, whom Marie calls her uncle, was adept at wax modeling. When her Marie grew up, he began teaching her the art of waxing her modeling.
From an early age, Marie showed a natural talent for wax carving. However, from 1780 to her 1789 she had to serve as art teacher to Madame Elisabeth, Louis her XVI sister.
And this is where things got spooky in her career.
Marie was often ordered to create the death masks of guillotined ex-monarchist aristocrats in order to forcibly show allegiance to the French Revolution.
Death masks were nothing new at the time. They were used thousands of years ago by ancient Rome and Egypt.
Marie Tussaud was reportedly the first to commercialize the use and production of death masks on a large scale.
The death mask she created paraded through the streets of Paris as a sign of victory.
However, despite her talent for creating impressive works of art, she and her mother were imprisoned during the Revolution. The Madame Tussauds website states that the duo “was forced to prove her loyalty to her revolution by creating death masks of executed nobles and kings and queens.”
Marie eventually left France for England with her two sons and her collection of wax figures.