Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is now world famous and there are six Madame Tussauds Wax Museums located worldwide. Madame Tussauds waxworks were popular and sensational ever since she began the work. Madame Tussaud was a creative woman who knew how to turn her creativity into a living. Madame Tussaud learned the craft of waxwork in her youth and she was able to become an artist and businessperson at a time in history when it was not so easy for a woman to do so.
Marie Grosholtz, who later became known as Madame Tussaud, was born in 1761. Marie Grosholtz was employed as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius, a skilled maker of wax modeling. Doctor Curtius taught Marie Grosholtz in the art of making wax death masks and wax models.
In his day, Doctor Curtius modeled a waxwork of Louis XV’s mistress, the famous Madame du Barry. Marie Grosholtz’s creativity eventually brought her to the royal court.
Marie Grosholtz lived a charmed life at times. In 1778, Marie began making wax figures of notable people of her time, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. By the time, Marie was nineteen years old, she could be found at the court of King Louis XVI as an art tutor to his sister Elizabeth. Her association with the Royal court almost proved to be deadly to Marie Grosholtz.
The Aristocrats Are Imprisoned
Marie Grosholtz was imprisoned for a time at the LaForce prison during the French Revolution. At the height of the French Revolution, Marie Grosholtz managed to create death masks for the murdered royal family. At the LaForce prison, her fellow prison inmates were aristocratic and associated with the unpopular French court. During her prison stay, Marie Grosholtz found herself living in her prison cell with Josephine, who would become Napoleon Bonaparte’s Empress.
The Collection Of Waxworks Continues To Grow
In 1794, after her release from LaForce prison, Marie became Madame Tussaud after her marriage to Frances Tussaud. Madame Tussauds collection of death masks continued to grow after she was released from prison. Marie made death masks of executed aristocrats and added these to her collection.
Madame Tussaud In London
Madame Tussaud made her escape from France to England in 1802. Madame Tussaud put her collection on display in a traveling show.
She needed to find a home for her collection and she finally placed her collection in London’s Baker Street Bazaar in 1835. The Chamber of Horrors was a popular exhibition at her wax museum. During her stay in London, she continued to work on her collection, which by now included death masks of body snatchers and murderers. The wax models of body snatchers, murderers, criminals and people who died during the French Revolution populated her Chamber of Horrors. Madame Tussauds self-portrait in wax made its debut in 1842.
At the age of 89 in the year 1850, Marie Grosholtz died. The wax exhibition moved to its present location on Marylebone Road in 1884, which was done by Madame Tussauds grandsons. In the 1920s, renovations were needed because of a large fire. Fortunately, not all was lost. Although the fire destroyed the waxworks, it did not destroy the molds. The molds have been used to recreate many of the historical waxworks from the museum’s past.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum has become such a popular attraction that it is possible to visit a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in New York Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Las Vegas. The fascination and thrills that it gives people to gaze upon visages from past and present will never go away so it looks like Madame Tussauds Wax Museum will live on in the future.