Philippe Curtius

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Philippe Curtius (1737–1794) was a Swiss physician and wax modeller who taught Marie Tussaud the art of wax modelling.

Marie Tussaud lived in the home of Philippe Curtius, a doctor in Berne, for whom her mother acted as housekeeper. Tussaud called him 'Uncle'. Curtius was a physician, and was skilled in wax modelling, which he used to illustrate anatomy. Later, he started to do portraits. Curtius created beautiful anatomical wax models which were admired by the Prince de Conti. In 1765 Curtius was persuaded to give up his medical career and move to Paris where he could practice wax modelling as a fine art, starting work to set up a cabinet de cire (wax exhibition).[1] In that year he made a waxwork of Marie Jean du Barry, Louis XV's mistress. A cast of that mould is the oldest work currently on display. His home was visited by many of the talented men of the day.

Tussaud and her mother joined Curtius and also moved to Paris. The first exhibition of Curtius' waxworks was shown in 1770, and attracted a lot of people. The exhibition moved to the Palais Royal in 1776. Curtius was admitted a member of the Academy of St-Luc in 1778.[2] He opened a second location on Boulevard du Temple in 1782, the Caverne des Grands Voleurs, a precursor to the later Chamber of Horrors.

Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling.[3] She started to work for him and showed a lot of talent. She created her first wax figure, of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in 1778.

When Curtius died in 1794, he left his collection of waxworks to Marie.


  1. ^ Undine Concannon, ‘Tussaud , Anna Maria (bap. 1761, d. 1850)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  2. ^ 'Madame Tussaud: And the History of Waxworks' by Pamela Pilbeam Published by Continuum International Publishing Group, (2006) pg 17 ISBN 1-85285-511-8
  3. ^ [1] Curtius on the NNDB website

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