|Melted and damaged mannequins after fire in |
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London, 1925
The viewing public's approach to the figures in wax museums has always varied from judgmental mockery to silent horror, the latter of which Madame Tussaud's capitalized on by making lifelike figures of the most infamous murderers on trial. A court case, involving murder and a wax museum established the the principle of "libel by innuendo" in English law, and Monson v Tussauds Ltd has been used to draw up defamation laws in many countries since.
From House of Wax (1953) to House of Wax (2005), waxworks form the basis of horror movies, and often included (still do) other attractions, like the hall of mirrors, chamber of horrors, and mock torture chambers. Although they are open year round, they've always tempted those who are in the mood for aa fright, as on Halloween Night. Suitably, the wax figure originated with funeral practices.
|House of Wax (1953)|
|The funeral effigy |
(without clothes) of
Elizabeth of York,
mother of King
Henry VIII, 1503,
King Louis XIV's court painter and sculptor, Antoine Benoist exhibited forty-three wax figures that resembled Louis XIV's Royal Circle at his home in Paris. After this exhibition, Louis XIV permitted the figures to be viewed throughout the country, which attracted the attention of King James II, who invited Benoist to England in 1684.
In England, Benoist made figures of the English Royal Court. Soon, Benoist was making wax figures of living royals all over Europe.
Mrs. Mary opened London's first wax museum in 1711. The 'Moving Wax Works of the Royal Court of England' included 140 lifelike figures, some of which used clockwork to create moving parts.
With London's location established on Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street, Madame Tussaud's is still the most famous name in wax museums.
|Wax head of Mary|
Pearcey (1890) from
Chamber of Horrors.
|Brisbane Courier, 31 May 1895.|
By the 1890s, most major cities had a wax museum, but the popularity of these went into decline during the twentieth century, as waxworks had to compete with other attractions.
Throughout October 2014, I will be sharing the halloween-themed stories of 1890s London. Check back often!
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