The Bloody History Of Madame Tussauds' Wax Museums

If you've ever played tourist in a major world city, you may have seen or even toured a Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

You've probably heard of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, but do you know who Madame Tussaud really was?

Born Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in France, the future Madame Tussaud discovered wax sculpting at a young age. Her mother was a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtis, a physician who was also a well-known wax sculptor. He taught Marie how to create wax figures on her own and by age 17 she had completed her first one, drawing attention from the French government.

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During the French Revolution, Marie was actually arrested for sympathizing with the royals. Luckily, Dr. Curtis had the right connections to get her released from jail with the promise that she would create death masks for people executed by revolutionists at the guillotine. This included King Louis the 16th and Marie Antoinette. The masks were paraded throughout Paris to let the public know who had been killed without the nuisance of carrying around a rotting corpse head.

After Dr. Curtis's death in 1802, Marie inherited all of his wax sculptures and took them to London to show them off. However, due to the Napoleonic Wars she was never able to return to France. Instead she toured around England with her two sons exhibiting her work. In 1835 she opened her first permanent museum in London, where you can still see some of Madame Tussaud's original work, including some of her infamous French Revolution death masks.

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Read more about the history of Madame Tussaud:

History: Biographies - Madame Marie Tussaud