Marie Tussaud was born in 1760 in Strasbourg, France. She learned the art of wax modeling in Bern, Switzerland, from Philippe Curtius, a physician for whom her mother used to work for, at that time.
In 1777 she decided to make her very first sculpture, picking Voltaire as the subject. During the French Revolution she sculpted some of the victims, searching through corpses to find severed heads of executed citizens, from which she would make masks. Creepy or what?
All in all, she spent 33 years travelling around Europe, exhibiting her collection in France, Great Britain and Ireland.
Some of the sculptures done by Madame Tussaud still exist, but most of them were damaged in a fire which took place in 1925. Also, the German bombs from 1941,destroyed a good part of them, but luckily, the casts themselves have survived, allowing the historical figures, which can still be seen in the museum, to be remade.
The making of …
Before getting there, I made jokes about using the real movie stars and singers as a base for the wax figures displayed (I’m pretty sure I saw a horror movie on this theme), however, this is not the real procedure 🙂
After talking to the museum’s staff, I’ve found out how much work is put into the making of a sculpture. The whole process takes around 3 months, in which various specialists and professionals work together to make it all happen (between the specialists, a hairdresser also has to be mentioned – if allowed, she will cut off a piece of the person’s hair for later use). Creepy or what?
They start with measuring the subject and clicking photos, which will be used not only during the sculpting, but also later, when the painting is done. Then the sculptor makes a clay figure, as close to reality as possible, later used for a plaster mould, filled up with fiberglass, in which hot wax will be poured.
I’m not a fan of any movie star or singer in particular, nor a fan of wax figures, so I can’t say Madame Tussauds is my favorite museum. Not even close.
What made me even more reluctant, at first, were the stories of how Marie Tussaud worked with cadavers, and the way in which the specialists prepare for the making of the wax sculptures. The amount of work and dedication put into the making and maintaining the wax figures is impressive, though.
Even if I find it creepy, I suppose it takes a bit of madness to get really good at anything you are passionate about. On our way to success, we all take a different path, which is perfectly fine.
How do you feel about the whole process: creepy or genius?