Home » Reference » Humanities » History » The famous Madame Tussaud started out in Paris during the French Revolution. Marie Tussaud used to make ‘death masks’ of famous people who’s heads had been chopped by the Guillotine. She went on tour to Britain for 30 years with her collection before setting up her waxworks in London.

The famous Madame Tussaud started out in Paris during the French Revolution. Marie Tussaud used to make ‘death masks’ of famous people who’s heads had been chopped by the Guillotine. She went on tour to Britain for 30 years with her collection before setting up her waxworks in London.

Marie Tussaud

Marie Tussaud, original name Marie Grosholtz, (born December 1, 1761, Strasbourg, France—died April 16, 1850, London, England), French-born founder of Madame Tussaud’s museum of wax figures, in central London.

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Her early life was spent first in Bern and then in Paris, where she learned the art of wax modeling from Philippe Curtius, whose two celebrated wax museums she inherited upon his death in 1794. From 1780 until the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, she served as ar… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

13 thoughts on “The famous Madame Tussaud started out in Paris during the French Revolution. Marie Tussaud used to make ‘death masks’ of famous people who’s heads had been chopped by the Guillotine. She went on tour to Britain for 30 years with her collection before setting up her waxworks in London.”

  1. sanayad-va

    Wow! How did she manage to travel with them? Also didn’t she ever get into trouble?

  2. mcochenour20

    I’ve been playing Assassins Creed Unity (set in Revolutionary Paris), and one of the side missions was to collect severed heads for Madame Tussaud.

  3. sheepsleepdeep

    Not so fast!

    >>[However, it seems strange that the National Assembly would sanction death masks when, as Tussaud also stated, they forbade their public display. This prohibition was to prevent any remnants of the royal family becoming a focus for posthumous adoration. It was for this reason the assembly had ordered the remains of King Louis be quicklimed following his burial. Indeed, for these reasons, it seems odd that they compelled Madame Tussaud to make the masks at all.](https://historycollection.com/unmasking-the-dead-10-eerie-and-infamous-death-masks/6/)
    >>
    >>[It seems that instead, Madame Tussaud and her mentor were making the masks quite willingly- and illicitly. Charles Sanson was notorious for selling off locks of hair, and clothing belonging to the executed. It is therefore plausible that he was renting out the severed heads of royalty to Madame Tussaud for a fee. For the mask of Marie Antoinette is genuine. Its features bear an uncanny likeness to her portraits- in all but one regard. For Marie Antoinette shared a facial feature with many of her Hapsburg relatives; a distinctive and less than flattering ‘dropped lip.’ Artists often omitted this feature from official portraits- yet it was present on the mask made after her death.](https://historycollection.com/unmasking-the-dead-10-eerie-and-infamous-death-masks/6/)

  4. Root-oftheissue

    If anyone finds the topic interesting, there’s actually a historical fiction book partially based on her story. It’s called *Little: A Novel* by Edward Carey.

  5. flipping_birds

    I went there last year and they have an extensive biography of her at the exhibit. Nope. Noting about severed head that I can recall. Really a lot of fun as a tourist attraction by the way. One funny part was they had several American presidents standing together and then Trump standing by himself over in the corner.

  6. Suck_Boy_Tony

    I literally just learned about her today while playing Assassin’s Creed Unity. What are the odds

  7. Rahastes

    There is a great book about her life called: Waxing Mythical by Kate Berridge. Which I would recommend for anyone interested in her and her exhibition.

  8. grambell789

    an interesting variation of turning lemons into lemonade.

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