Madame Tussauds is a famous wax museum in London with branches in a number of major cities. It was set up by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud.
Marie Tussaud (1761–1850) was born Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg, France. Her mother worked as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius, who was a physician skilled in wax modelling. Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling. In 1765, Curtius made a waxwork of Marie-Jeanne du Barry, Louis XV's mistress. A cast of that mould is the oldest work currently on display. The first exhibition of Curtius' waxworks was shown in 1770, and attracted a large audience. The exhibition moved to the Palais Royal in Paris in 1776. He opened a second location on Boulevard du Temple in 1782, the "Caverne des Grands Voleurs", a precursor to the later Chamber of Horrors.
Tussaud created her first wax 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 decapitated heads of executed citizens, from which she would make death masks. Following the doctor’s death in 1794, she inherited his vast collection of wax models and spent the next 33 years travelling around Europe. Her marriage to Francois Tussaud in 1795 lent a new name to the show – Madame Tussauds. In 1802, she went to London. As a result of the Franco-English war, she was unable to return to France, so she travelled throughout Great Britain and Ireland exhibiting her collection. For a time, it was displayed at the Lyceum Theatre. From 1831 she took a series of short leases on the "Baker Street Bazaar" (on the west side of Baker Street between Dorset Street and King Street). This became Tussaud's first permanent home in 1836.