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Madam Tussauds wax works

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in London with branches in a number of major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud and was formerly known as "Madame Tussaud's"; the apostrophe is no longer used.Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying waxworks of historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars and infamous murderers. Madame Tussauds is owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments.

Marie Tussaud was born as Marie Grosholtz in 1760 in Strasbourg, France. Her mother worked as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius in Bern, Switzerland, who was a physician skilled in wax modelling. Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling.

Tussaud created her first wax man figure, of Voltaire, in 1777. Other famous people she modelled at that time include Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin.

During the French Revolution she modelled many prominent victims. In her memoirs she claims that she would search through corpses to find the severed heads of executed citizens, from which she would make death masks. Her death masks were held up as revolutionary flags and paraded through the streets of Paris.

Following the doctor's death in 1794, she inherited his vast collection of wax models and spent the next 33 years travelling around Europe.

She got married to Francois Tussaud in 1795 lent a new name to the show: Madame Tussaud's.

In 1802 she went to London, having accepted an invitation from Paul Philidor, a magic lantern and phantasmagoria pioneer, to exhibit her work alongside his show at the Lyceum Theatre, London. She did not fare particularly well financially, with Philidor taking half of her profits.

By 1835 Marie had settled down in Baker Street, London and opened a museum.This part of the exhibition included victims of the French Revolution and newly created figures of murderers and other criminals. The name is often credited to a contributor to Punch in 1845, but Marie appears to have originated it herself, using it in advertising as early as 1843.

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