To be immortalized forever in wax you dont need to be a Queen or a politician, you just need to be a celebrity with a pulling power.
In fact, there is a great number of wax works exhibitions in our county and abroad. Wax personalities attract millions of visitors all over the world. Its an open secret that a transnational entertaining company Tussauds Group is at the top of the list.
During my summer trip to St. Petersburg I also visited some wax works exhibitions. Two of them were really fascinating and worth seeing. But I was also disappointed to discover that there is too much hackwork at this field. All this aroused my particular interest in wax sculpture and made me investigate the subject deeper. The aim of my work is to research the history of the matter, to reveal the facts of Madame Tussauds life and to trace the development of Wax Works Museum into the worlds biggest entertaining centre Tussauds Group.
This written work can be used at English lessons and world art lessons, as well as at extra curricular, devoted to great personalities. Im sure it will help to broaden the students outwork.
How It All Began
First it was a living newspaper, then a History textbook, Londons visit card, a movie theatre, a restaurant and even a planetarium. Today Madame Tussauds Wax Works Museum is the most visited tourist attraction in the world. Its founder, Madame Tussaud is considered to be the first business lady in the worlds history and is called a grandmother of modern show business.
At the beginning of the 17th century Europe was captured by fashion on wax portrait sculptures. Although thy were not so long living and tough as those made of marble and bronze, they were at greater demand as more realistic and cheaper. And it made them available not only for merchants and aristocrats but for the common citizens as well. And they wanted to remain in their grandchildrens memories.
Madame Tussaud and Her Museum
The story of Madame Tussaud is as fascinating as that of the exhibition itself. Two things of her life are especially noteworthy. First, she spent her early years during the French Revolution and came to meet many of the characters involved. Second, and perhaps more unusually, she succeeded in business at time when women were rarely involved in the world of commerce.
Madame Tussaud was born in Strasbourg in 1761 and christened Marie Grosholtz. Her father, a soldier, was killed in a battle during the Seven Years War only two months before Maries birth. Her mother was a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius, a skilled wax sculptor. From the earliest childhood Marie learnt modelling techniques with Dr. Curtius. Just before the French Revolution they moved to Paris.
At that time Maries talent became apparent and he was invited to the royal court to assist in the artistic education of the King Loui XVIs sister, Madame Elizabeth. Life in Versallies was vivid contrast to Maries pervious existence. The capital became a centre chaotic activity; no one was safe, and at one time both Marie and her mother were imprisoned. But they were not executed, and nobody knew why. Long before Marie was asked to prepare the death masks of many of her former employers after they had been executed among them Marie Antoinette, Lois XVI, Jean Paul Marat, the philosopher and revolutionary. This portrait, along with many others modelled by Marie, is still on display today.
In 1794 Cutius died, and Marie inherited the business, which was grown under her influence. In the following year she married a French engineer, Francois Tussaud, and gave birth to three children: a daughter, who died, and two sons.
France was still suffering, enormous deprivation, and Maries exhibiton was struggling to survive. In 1802 Marie made a monumental decision. She would leave her husband and her baby son, Francis, in Paris, while she and her elder son, Joseph, would tour to the exhibition round the British Isles.
Marie was to see neither France nor her husband again. She spent the next 33 years travelling around the British Isles, exhibiting her growing collection of figures to crowds of curious and intrigued spectators. Joseph (her elder son) accompanied her, taking a keen interest in the craft of making wax figures Soon his brother Francis joined them.
In the days before television, cinema and radio Madame Tussauds figures ere sensation. Week after week the figures of Lord Byron, the murders Burke and Hare, King George IV, Queen Carline of Brunswik, Shakespeare and the death mask of Emperor Napoleon among many others were packed and unpacked to be shown to an admiring public.
The travels ended in 1835, when Madame Tussauds exhibition found a permanent home. It was in London, not far from todays exhibition.
Another interesting development of the period was the establishment of what was to become the Chamber of Horrors. Madame Tussauds collection of the victims and perpetrators of violent punishment and murders and miscreants was an unquestionable success.
Madame Tussaud was actively involved in the exhibition almost to the end of her life. This would be a remarkable feat even now, and was particularly unusual for a woman in the 19th century. In April 1850, at the age of 89, she died. Her final work a remarkable self portrait modelling eight years before her death can still be seen today.
There are some interesting facts about her museum. In 1925 an electrical fault sparked a fire, which, despite the efforts of Madame Tussauds own firefighters and the London Fire Brigade, soon raged out of the control. Many of the figures were destroyed. But in 1928 the interior had been reconstructed, this time with the addition of a cinema and restaurant.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, in 1939, all of Britain was threatened by enemy action - not least London. During the night of the 8th of September 1940, Madame Tussauds was struck by a heavy bomb, which inflicted significant damage. Some 352 head moulds were damaged beyond repair and the cinema was completely destroyed although, thankfully, no lives were lost. In December of that same year the exhibition again opened its doors to the public.
And now Id like to dwell upon some studio secrets of Madame Tussauds Museum.
Modelling methods at Madame Tussauds have not changed in 200 years. Once a person has been chosen, the firs step is to collect preliminary information press photographs and articles if the subject is alive, portraits in other media and biographies if dead. Then it must be decided in which part of the exhibition the figure is to be placed, what the pose it should be and its relationship to other wax portraits.
The sculptor is normally given a sitting with the subject when detailed photographs are taken, hair and eyes are matched and clothes noted. The sculptor not only takes precire measurements, such as dimensions of ears and nostrils, but also has the opportunity to observe the character and personality of the subject, which will be conveyed as modelling progresses.
Sittings usually take place at Madame Tussauds studious although, on occasion, the sculptor will visit the subject. Nelson Mandela gave a sitting at the Post House Hotel near Heathrow Airport, during a busy schedule which included a television interview. He later visited Madame Tussauds with the late ANC leader Oliver Tambo to unveil the figure.
Sylvester Stallones sitting was as the MGM Studious in Holywood, and he presented Madam Tussauds with his own full set of evening clothes.
Madame Tussauds sculptors never take life casts. Hands, however, are regularly moulded from life and cast in wax.
It takes about six months to complete a figure, most of which is spent on the portrait head. Working from the reference material acquired at the sitting, the sculptor begins by modelling the head in clay. At this stage the hair is also sculpted, but this will later be replaced by real hair. Despite the extensive use of careful measurements, a great deal of artistry is required to achieve a realistic portrait. The body is built up in clay on to an armature.
When the sculptor is happy with the clay model, a mould of approximately 12 separate pieces is taken from the head. After meticulous cleaning, the saturated, warm plaster head mould is filled with molten wax. When a sufficient thickness has solidified, the still molten centre is poured away. The head mould is made of a plaster of sufficient quality and fitness to reproduce exactly the surface of the clay, and can be used several times. The plaster pieces are removed from the head, and the wax cast is allowed to cool slowly, wrapped in cloth.
Entertaining and Amazing People
Figures are made 2% bigger than real life because wax shrinks. The wax used for the figures is similar to candle wax. In the more thrifty past, wax figures were melted down and re used, but this is no longer the case as the color of the wax deteriorates when recycled. Each figure weights about 15 kg with 4.5 kg of wax used for the head and 1.4 kg for the hands.
Over 150 precise measurements are taken to create an accurate portrait. Each hair is to be individually inserted, taking about five weeks.
All the figures regularly have their hair washed and styled like anyone else would at a hairdressers. By the way, all vital statistics are accurate and kept under lock and key by Madame Tussauds. Despite repeated requests from the press, this information is never disclosed.
The characters who move and speak are modelled in clay first of all, like the normal portraits, but t