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Database: Madame Tussaud

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Born Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg, Marie Tussaud would go on to be famous for her museum of wax sculptures in London.*
* Thank God she changed her name. I doubt they'd be queueing round the block for Madame Grosholtz's House of Vaguely-Recognisable Figurines.
She learned how to sculpt from Doctor Philippe Curtius, for whom she worked as a housekeeper. Philippe Curtius was a physician, physicist and anatomist who sculpted heads and organs for use in his classes.**
** I hope they mean anatomy classes. Because if he just brought them out during random math classes, I think the authorities should have been told.
Marie became his brightest (and only) pupil and came with him to Paris. In 1776, their exhibition of portraits attracted large crowds of people, astonished by the realism of their figures: it was almost as if he skin of the sculptures quivered. Marie created her first wax figures of Voltaire and Rousseau, the best of enemies, in 1778; she then went on to Benjamin Franklin. She was also employed by Louis XVI to teach drawing and modeling to Louis' sister, and moved into Versailles. However, such proximity to royalty served her poorly after the fall of the monarchy. She was arrested for royalist sympathies and waited to meet her death in the same cell as Eugène de Beauharnais. Just as the executioner was cutting her hair to clear her neck, the order came for her release. The condition of her freedom was to create wax sculptures of famous heads, whether hated or celebrated. Eventually, these would include Marie-Antoinette, Marat and Robespierre. Her mentor Curtius died in the autumn of 1794 just as the Terror was subsiding. He left Marie his collection of heads. ***
*** How touching.
She left for London in 1802 to present her collection - which had been the talk of the town for the past two decades. She would remain there for the rest of her life, establishing her famous exhibition. She died in her sleep at the age of 88 years, 54 of which she had spent sculpting. Having completed her own self-portrait many years since, she has remainded eternally young.****
**** If by 'eternally young' you mean 'permanently dead'.

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