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A physician, physicist and anatomist, Curtius sculpted heads and organs for use in his classes. His housekeeper's daughter, Marie Tussaud, became his pupil and accompanied him to Paris. In 1776, their exhibition of portraits there attracted a great deal of visitors who were amazed at the figures' realism. During the French Revolution, Tussaud narrowly escaped execution, while Curtius died in late 1794, just after the end of the Reign of Terror, leaving his student his collection of sculpted heads.