How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

Anastasia Sergeeva
11.04.2016

How are wax figures created in Madame Tussauds?

Madame Tussauds is named after its founder, Maria Tussauds. However, her interest in sculpting arose in her very childhood, when she bore the girlish name of Anna Maria Grossholz. It was she who stood at the origins of the creation of wax figures. And her business lives to this day and is very popular all over the world.

The history of the extraordinary sculptor

Maria's mother served the house of Dr. Philip Curtius, who, in addition to healing, was fond of anatomy and engaged in the creation of anatomical dummies, and soon began to create various sculptures of wax to order. Little Maria often ran to his studio and watched his work - it was then that Curtius began teaching her how to create wax figures.

Portrait of Maria Tussauds

At the age of seventeen, Mary created her first sculpture - and it was a sculpture of Voltaire himself. The great philosopher died a few months after the modeling session, so his wax bust, exhibited in the shop window of Curtius, attracted great buyers and helped the family to establish a business.

Maria became Curtius's assistant - led him in business, helped with the organization of exhibitions and continued to make sculptures. He appreciated the help and talent of the girl to the sculptural art, and therefore subsequently bequeathed to her all his works.

Sculpture of Mary Tussauds at work

Maria Grossholz became famous for her wax figures of famous personalities so that once she was invited to model the sculptures of the royal family members themselves. At the time of the arrival of the French Revolution, Maria was sentenced to death, but her chance to escape was the creation of death masks from the murdered royals and the taking of impressions from revolutionary leaders such as Robespierre, Marat and others.

Wax figure of Maria Tussauds

A few years later, Maria married Francois Tussauds, a French engineer, and gave birth to two sons, Joseph and Francois. She continued to engage in sculpture and create wax figures of famous people. But one day, after leaving her husband who had become drunk, she and her children went on a journey through the islands of Britain and in the process continued to create sculptures of famous historical figures and British political figures.

This is how the first Madame Tussauds Museum appeared, which at that time was a traveling exhibition - Maria carried her along during her travels.

Museum building in london

Soon she finally moved to the British capital. So in 1835, Madame Tussauds appeared in London, and it was originally located on the famous street called Baker Street.

Fifteen years after the opening of the museum in London, Madame Tussauds died, but her business was not lost thanks to her sons and grandchildren. Soon the museum moved to a more prestigious district of the capital, on Marylebone Road. And even despite the fact that half a century after the move Madame Tussauds lost most of the sculptures due to fire, they were able to be restored thanks to the preserved dummies.

Madame Tussauds Museum in London

The most famous wax figure of Madame Tussauds, which is mostly meant, is still in London. The exposition of the museum usually has about four hundred wax figures.

The popularity of this place is so great that each time before the entrance there are huge queues wishing to see the creations of the Tussauds dynasty. Many of the sculptures placed in the museum were made by the hands of Mary. By the way, the wax figure of Madame Tussauds is the very first sculpture meeting the spectators who enter the museum building. Its author is Madame Tussauds herself, who decided during her lifetime to create her own self-portrait.

Madame Tussauds wax figure

All exhibits of the collection are divided into thematic halls. “World Arena” is the name of the largest of these halls, which houses the wax figures of famous personalities from the field of history, culture and politics of different centuries.

Visitors will also see royal family figures, including Prince William, his wife Kate Middleton, brother Harry and others. Politicians of the 20th century and the 21st century are also gathered here: visitors will see both Indira Gandhi, and Barack Obama, and many other political figures.

Wax figures of the royal family

Separate rooms are dedicated to the stars of sports, the music world, Hollywood and even Indian Bollywood. Visitors simply run from so many stellar doubles: from Freddie Mercury and Jimi Hendrix to Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, from Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston.

Wax music stars

A separate room is devoted to the most terrible historical events: famous maniacs, serial killers and their victims, instruments of torture and other thematic exhibits are placed there - the benefit is all made of wax. Unstable psyche, pregnancy and age up to twelve years old - restrictions for visiting this room of fear.

The room of fear in the museum of Tussauds

Although Madame Tussauds' main museum is located in London, as is the workshop where each figure is created, nineteen branches of the museum were created in nineteen other cities of the world. The most famous and interesting branches of the Tussauds Museum opened in Berlin, New York and Amsterdam. In each of them are unique sculptures, but celebrities can be repeated.

Bollywood Waxed Stars

Madame Tussauds gives celebrities immortality in the form of wax figures, but some of them even experience a kind of regeneration. If a celebrity makes a tattoo or changes her hairstyle, then the masters can add or change it in an existing sculpture, adding new elements there, but most often the celebrity's wax figure is completely re-created.

Wax michael jackson

This is due to the fact that, unlike wax sculptures, living people tend to change over time or due to plastic surgery. For example, the figure of the singer Kylie Minogue has changed four times, and the wax figure of Michael Jackson, for obvious reasons, thirteen times.

How wax figures are made

All visitors who come to Madame Tussauds wax museum are struck by the similarity of sculptures with celebrities. In particularly successful cases, the celebrity in the photo can not be distinguished from the double of wax.But not everyone knows what is behind the creation of wax figures in the museum.

John Hamm wax

  • It takes a huge amount of time to make each wax sculpture, about three to four months, as the masters carefully work out even the smallest details. About two hundred such figures are made annually.
  • First, measures are taken from the face and body of a person by which they want to make a wax figure. Celebrities have to spend a lot of time in the workshop so that the sculptor will collect all the necessary information: what is his model's skin color and eyes, hairstyle, hair color and shape, does she have moles, scars, tattoos, etc. And the person is not left alive, the modeling masters have to be guided only by photographs.

Wax figure measurements

  • After measurements are taken, you need to fix the position of the future sculpture. For this, a metal frame is used: the lower part of the figure is formed of a hard metal, and the upper part is made of a soft one.
  • A clay model of the model is compiled on the basis of measurements - it must exactly correspond to its real appearance. Then these clay casts are made frame.

Clay layout for the figure

  • After that, the time comes for beeswax - they pour in wet clay and waitsolidification of the figure, which takes about 170 hours. After that, the sculpture is polished, if necessary, and small imperfections are removed.

Wax mold

  • Madame Tussauds Museum realistically fits all the details, so the figures from wax do not wear wigs - natural hair is attached to the “skin” of the sculpture’s head, strand after strand. After that the hairstyle is formed. Work on the hair can take more than a month.

Adding hair

  • There is a turn of teeth and eyes: for their manufacture is used acrylic rubber.

Eyes for wax figure

  • Skin color and "make-up" sculptures are created with the help of oil paints.

Makeup wax figure

  • The celebrities themselves usually give their own clothes and accessories to the wax figure.

Wax figure clothes

The safety of each figure is closely monitored: sculptures are checked before and after each exhibition day. In this case, visitors, for example, are not prohibited to embrace the wax twin to take a photo.

If you wanted to see with your own eyes how one of the most unusual museums in the world looks like - Madame Tussauds wax museum in London, then watch the following story, in which you can walk through the halls of the museum together with the author of the video:


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  • How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds

    How wax figures are created in Madame Tussauds