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Anna Maria Tussaud (née Grosholtz, sometimes spelled Grossholtz or Grossholz) or Marie Tussaud (1 December 1761 - 16 April 1850) was a Frenchmarker artist known for her wax sculptures and Madame Tussaudsmarker, the wax museum she set up in London.


She was born in Strasbourgmarker; her father, a soldier named Joseph Grosholtz, was killed in the Seven Years' War just two months before Marie was born. Her mother, Anne-Marie Walder, took her to Bernemarker where she moved to work as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius (1741-1794). There she took the Swissmarker nationality. Curtius was a physician, and was skilled in wax modelling, which he used to illustrate anatomy. Later, he started to do portraits. Tussaud called him uncle.

Curtius moved to Parismarker in 1765, starting work to set up a cabinet de cire (wax exhibition). In that year he made a waxwork of Louis XV's last mistress, Madame du Barry, a cast of which is the oldest work currently on display. In 1767, Tussaud and her mother joined Curtius and also moved to Parismarker. The first exhibition of Curtius' waxworks was shown in 1770, and attracted a big crowd. In 1776, the exhibition moved to the Palais Royalmarker and, in 1782, Curtius opened a second exhibit, the Caverne des Grands Voleurs, a precursor to the later chamber of horrorsmarker, on Boulevard du Templemarker.

Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling; she showed a lot of talent and started to work for him. In 1778, she created her first wax figure, that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. She later modelled other famous personages, such as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin.

From 1780 to the Revolution in 1789, she taught art to the sister of Louis XVI. Members of the royal family were so pleased with her work that, on their invitation, she lived at Versailles .

French Revolution

In Parismarker, Tussaud became involved in the French Revolution and met many of its important figures, including Napoleon Bonaparte and Robespierre.

On 12 July 1789, wax heads of Jacques Necker and the duc d'Orléans made by Curtius were carried in a protest march two days before the attack on the Bastille.

Tussaud was arrested during the Reign of Terror together with Joséphine de Beauharnais; her head was shaved in preparation for execution by guillotine. But thanks to Collot d'Herbois's support for Curtius and his household, she was released. Tussaud was employed to make death masks of the victims of the guillotine. Among others, she made death masks of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Marat, and Robespierre.

When Curtius died in 1794, he left his collection of waxworks to Marie. In 1795, she married François Tussaud. They had two children, Joseph and François.


In 1802, Marie Tussaud went to Londonmarker together with Joseph, then four years old, her other son staying behind. As a result of the Napoleonic Wars, she was unable to return to Francemarker, so she traveled with her collection throughout Great Britainmarker and Irelandmarker. In 1821 or 1822, her other son, François, joined her. In 1835, she established her first permanent exhibition in Baker Streetmarker, on the "Baker Street Bazaar". In 1838, she wrote her memoirs. In 1842, she made a self-portrait which is now on display at the entrance of her museum. Some of the sculptures done by Tussaud herself still exist.


She died in her sleep in Londonmarker on 16 April 1850. She was eighty-eight years old. There is a memorial tablet to Madame Marie Tussaud on the right side of the nave of St. Mary's, Cadogan Street, London.


Madame Tussaud's wax museummarker has now grown to become one of the major tourist attractions in London, and has expanded with branches in Amsterdammarker, Hong Kongmarker (Victoria Peak), Las Vegasmarker, Shanghai, Berlinmarker, Washington D.Cmarker.,New York Citymarker, and Hollywoodmarker. The current owner is Merlin Entertainments Group, a company owned by Blackstone Investment Group LP.

External links


  1. Undine Concannon, ‘Tussaud , Anna Maria (bap. 1761, d. 1850)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Madame Tussaud's memoirs and reminiscences of France, by Marie Tussaud, ed. by F. Hervé, London, 1838.

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