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Thread: Marie Grosholtz aka Madame Tussaud

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    Marie Grosholtz aka Madame Tussaud

    I was fascinated by the weirdness of wax museums when I was a kid.


    The subject of our final post for our week of women is Marie Grosholtz (1761-1850), although you probably know her as Madame Tussaud. The French-born, Swiss-reared Grosholtz was a wax model prodigy – she made her first wax figure (Voltaire, above left) at the tender age of 17. (Her life is so interesting we had to make the post a bit longer than usual. Enjoy!)
    1. Marie Grosholtz was trained by her mother’s employer, Dr. Philippe Curtius, a skilled wax modeler. Grosholtz, who referred to Curtius as “uncle,” apprenticed under the doctor from a young age. The Grosholtz women even moved to Paris with Curtius, where the doctor opened his popular wax museums. Upon his death, Grosholtz inherited his entire collection of wax figures, which became the foundation for her own exhibitions.
    2. In 1780, the Royal Court at Versailles came calling: Gorsholtz was invited to live at the Palace and serve as art tutor to Madame Élisabeth, Louis XVI’s sister. Gorsholtz, a savvy businesswoman, used the royal connection to her (and Curtius’) advantage in creating Marie Antoinette-themed tableaux for Curtius’s Wax Salon. Visitors could watch “Marie Antoinette and her family eating dinner” or satisfy their inner Peeking Toms with a scene of Antoinette, in a low-cut nightgown, preparing for bed.
    3. After the mob stormed the Bastille in 1789, the mutilated head of de Launay, the Bastille governor, was brought to Grosholtz. Paraded on a pike by the angry mob, the head had deteriorated in condition and the group had decided a wax head might be better suited for their purposes. Grosholtz supposedly fashioned the wax head on the steps of her exhibition while the mob waited.
    4. De Launay’s head was just the beginning of the horrors to come for Grosholtz. Suspected of Royalist tendencies due to her job at Versailles, Grosholtz was forced to make death masks from the heads of freshly guillotined victims of the Revolution, including Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Grosholtz would search through piles of corpses to find the heads of her executed friends and acquaintances. She would then make the mask while holding the bloodied head in her lap.
    5. Eventually, Grosholtz too was arrested and imprisoned. According to some sources, her head was even shaved in preparation for her execution, though the day of execution never came. While in prison, she shared a cell with Joséphine de Beauharais, with whom she became good friends. The women were released after three months and remained friends; it was at the request of Joséphine, his wife, that Napoleon Bonaparte later posed for Grosholtz.
    6. Grosholtz began using the name Madame Tussaud after her marriage to Francois Tussaud in 1795. Just five years later, she took her eldest son and her collection on the road, exhibiting throughout the British Isles. Some sources allege she left because her marriage had gone sour; others claim she merely left to make money. Whatever the reason, Tussaud left and never saw her husband again, as the Napoleonic Wars prevented a return to France. Her younger son only joined her in 1821, only after the deaths of his father and grandmother and 20 years after he last saw his mother.
    7. One of Tussaud’s most popular attractions at her museum in England (established in 1835) was the Chamber of Horrors, which included victims of the French Revolution, murderers, and other criminals. Most sources claim that the term “Chamber of Horrors” was coined by a contributor to Punch in 1845, but the term had been used in Tussaud’s own advertising as early as 1843, indicating Tussaud most likely coined the term herself.
    8. Surprisingly, some of Tussaud’s (and even Curtius’) original models still exist, including Tussaud’s Robespierre, George III, and Ben Franklin (one of her earliest figures) and Curtius’s Madame du Barry. Most, though, have been remade from molds, as the originals were rendered unusable through a combination of a 1925 fire and the bombing of London in 1941.
    9. Tussaud ensured her museum legacy by establishing a permanent home for her exhibition in 1836; it went to her sons upon her death. She ensured her own legacy by writing her memoirs in 1838, creating a self portrait (shown above right) in 1842, sitting for a portrait by a court painter, and serving as the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ Mrs. Jarley in his novel, The Old Curiosity Shop.
    .

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    OOOOOOww, I want to read her book!

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    I think it would be cool to go to a wax museum. I would probably get freaked out though... As I would most certainly swear, I saw one "move".
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    Quote Originally Posted by seurtoFW View Post
    OOOOOOww, I want to read her book!
    Nifty that it's available free in that link to the Google ebooks thingy, huh? I still end up killing a tree though because I print them out, lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flowergrrl View Post
    I think it would be cool to go to a wax museum. I would probably get freaked out though... As I would most certainly swear, I saw one "move".
    My brother used to do that
    .

    La di da, la di da, la la.

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    Oh my God! I LOVE Madame Tussaud's museums!! We go to the one in Vegas at least once a year. There are a few statues that don't quite look like the person, but for the most part they are dead on. My step sons have a picture of them posing with a wax Jenna Jameson. Their mom was so thrilled. I, myself, can honestly say I took great pleasure in melting certain parts off of Jeff Gordon, Tim McGraw and The Rock. I love the fact that the figures are done (pretty much) to the exact proportions of the person they portray. They have Mike Tyson and he is actually missing part of his ear! I will tell anyone that lives near one of her museums, GO!! You won't regret it.
    Aaahhhh! Springtime in southern Nevada!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeChick View Post
    Nifty that it's available free in that link to the Google ebooks thingy, huh? I still end up killing a tree though because I print them out, lol.

    My brother used to do that
    Haha, yeah... I don't think it would help that I have a big imagination either. AND, I watch waaay too many horror movies.

    Not a good combo when entering a wax museum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CORONERGAL View Post
    Oh my God! I LOVE Madame Tussaud's museums!! We go to the one in Vegas at least once a year. There are a few statues that don't quite look like the person, but for the most part they are dead on. My step sons have a picture of them posing with a wax Jenna Jameson. Their mom was so thrilled. I, myself, can honestly say I took great pleasure in melting certain parts off of Jeff Gordon, Tim McGraw and The Rock. I love the fact that the figures are done (pretty much) to the exact proportions of the person they portray. They have Mike Tyson and he is actually missing part of his ear! I will tell anyone that lives near one of her museums, GO!! You won't regret it.
    Why would Mike Tyson be missing part of an ear? He sure didn't bite his own ear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanolivia View Post
    Why would Mike Tyson be missing part of an ear? He sure didn't bite his own ear.
    OOOPS!!! Good catch! It's Holyfields' ear missing a chunk. (Note to self...post BEFORE your third hot schnocolate!)
    Aaahhhh! Springtime in southern Nevada!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CORONERGAL View Post
    OOOPS!!! Good catch! It's Holyfields' ear missing a chunk. (Note to self...post BEFORE your third hot schnocolate!)
    Enjoy! Hot schnocolate sounds delightful.

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    Thanks for posting Some Chick
    it was a really interesting read even though I don't like wax musuems due to my clown fear issues
    I told my lawyer he's better step it up or we would both end up on an episode of "SNAPPED"

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    It has been a lifelong ambition of mine to visit Madame Tussauds. I once tried to go to the London one, but the queue was tooo vast! I will get there one day

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    Me and my boyfriend at Madame Tussauds on our last trip to Vegas...
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Me and my boyfriend at Madame Tussauds on our last trip to Vegas...

    Funny, he looks a lot like my boyfriend!

    Great post somechick. Didn't know anything about the Madame. Have not been to a Madame Tussauds but a couple of others. Years ago at the Hollywood Wax Museum (the stars looked awful but the Chamber of Horrors was good) my friend and I were looking into Dracula's casket when a figure sitting in a chair in the exhibit suddenly lunged at us. The walls were padded so that should have been a clue something was up. Scared me silly and my poor friend ran screaming down the hallway. Went back several years later and no live person. Probably too many heart attacks!

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    I've been to the Tussaud's in New York and in Washington D.C. It is SO awesome. Especially to see the people that you would NEVER meet in real life! The picture on my profile page is actually me being interrogated by a wax J. Edgar Hoover at the one in D.C.

    I will post some pictures sometime. I compared breast size with Marilyn Monroe and was directed by Steven Spielberg.
    Who loves not a false imagining, an unreal character in us; but looking through all the rubbish of our imperfections, loves in us the divine ideal of our natures - not the man that we are, but the angel that we may be.” ~Tennyson
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    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Me and my boyfriend at Madame Tussauds on our last trip to Vegas...

    Lucky girl!


    Quote Originally Posted by Dulcinea View Post
    I've been to the Tussaud's in New York and in Washington D.C. It is SO awesome. Especially to see the people that you would NEVER meet in real life! The picture on my profile page is actually me being interrogated by a wax J. Edgar Hoover at the one in D.C.

    I will post some pictures sometime. I compared breast size with Marilyn Monroe and was directed by Steven Spielberg.
    Hopefully sooner than later.

    I haven't been to Madame Tussaud's since I was a kid, so I don't have any pics. My mom might though. We went there a few times and was always snapping pics of everything, so she might.
    .

    La di da, la di da, la la.

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    Thumbs up

    I love the Wax Museum. I also went to the New York one and my sister snapped me with...........

    Marilyn Monroe.........
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Scott Michaels knows more about death than Dexter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reecy View Post
    I love the Wax Museum. I also went to the New York one and my sister snapped me with...........

    Marilyn Monroe.........
    Lookin' good!

    That's one of the best wax Marilyns I've seen too.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have these: http://www.findadeath.com/funstuff/Scarilyn.htm
    .

    La di da, la di da, la la.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeChick View Post
    I was fascinated by the weirdness of wax museums when I was a kid.
    That guy looks like Swoozie Kurtz

    You don't mess with friggin Dave Coulier click here to mess

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    Quote Originally Posted by RaRaRamona View Post
    That guy looks like Swoozie Kurtz

    Priceless! I wonder if there's a wax Swoozie we can compare it to?

    If I look at it again though, I'm thinking more Helen Hayes.
    Last edited by SomeChick; 01-10-2011 at 09:18 PM.
    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeChick View Post
    Lookin' good!

    That's one of the best wax Marilyns I've seen too.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have these: http://www.findadeath.com/funstuff/Scarilyn.htm
    I remember seeing those ugly Marilyn wax figures. LOL................ They look horrid.
    Scott Michaels knows more about death than Dexter.

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    Okay. Here is a link to our NYC Madame Tussaud pictures. The first ones are from 2007 when we were there with my stepdaughter. The second part is from 2006 when we were there on our honeymoon. Still on the lookout from the ones from DC...can't find them.

    http://s143.photobucket.com/albums/r...%20and%202007/
    Who loves not a false imagining, an unreal character in us; but looking through all the rubbish of our imperfections, loves in us the divine ideal of our natures - not the man that we are, but the angel that we may be.” ~Tennyson
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    It looks like you guys had a great time! Some of the pics are priceless...like you and Paris Hilton and you and MM.

    Ernest Hemingway (at least that's who I think that is) looks appropriately disgusted with us all for looking at him.

    Who is that in the red suit in front of the Seinfeld thingy? It's hard to tell from that angle but I'm guessing Andy Richter, maybe?

    Who's the "ladylike" one in black seated next to you on the bench? Shannon Tweed? Sharon Stone?

    The John Travolta looks like he's got a surprise for you in his hands there.

    Benny Hill!
    .

    La di da, la di da, la la.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeChick View Post
    It looks like you guys had a great time! Some of the pics are priceless...like you and Paris Hilton and you and MM.

    Ernest Hemingway (at least that's who I think that is) looks appropriately disgusted with us all for looking at him.

    Who is that in the red suit in front of the Seinfeld thingy? It's hard to tell from that angle but I'm guessing Andy Richter, maybe?

    Who's the "ladylike" one in black seated next to you on the bench? Shannon Tweed? Sharon Stone?

    The John Travolta looks like he's got a surprise for you in his hands there.

    Benny Hill!
    It IS Ernest Hemmingway. I should have pretended to shoot him...

    The "Red Suit" is current Elton John. I am posing with OLD Elton John in another picture.

    The chick on the couch is Madonna.

    LOL @ John Travolta. Maybe it was for my husband....or maybe not...

    We've found the best way to take pictures with the figures is to find out where THEIR gaze is directed and take the picture with them looking into the camera. Many look shiny but it can always be edited in a photo editor, I guess. Never really tried... There were some REALLY great ones in DC. Mostly historical figures which is cool to see as they are people that you never really get a "sense" of from paintings. There is also a really HOT wax figure of Washington at Mount Vernon, but you can't pose with it.
    Last edited by Dulcinea; 01-17-2011 at 07:31 PM.
    Who loves not a false imagining, an unreal character in us; but looking through all the rubbish of our imperfections, loves in us the divine ideal of our natures - not the man that we are, but the angel that we may be.” ~Tennyson
    "

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