Madame Tussaud bust of George III
Madame Tussaud and George III
Madame Tussaud, born Marie Grosholtz in Straßburg in 1761, learned her trade with the German wax sculptor Philippe Curtius who had several successful wax figure cabinets in Paris in the 1770s.
By 1803 Mme Tussaud had achieved great success after moving her work to London where she added figures of British royalty to her collection. We know that she made a waxwork of George III ‘from life’ to celebrate the King’s Golden Jubilee of 1810.
The wax cast you can see at Kew Palace was produced in 1996-7 from an original mould kept at Madame Tussauds’. It has been painted taking inspiration from contemporary portraits of the king.
'What what?' was one of King George III's favourite expressions. You can almost hear him saying it when you come face to face with this wax head.
‘When the wax head is not on display, it is kept in the dress stores at Kensington Palace. Whenever I show the stores to visitors I ceremoniously open the box without telling them what’s inside. The wax head is so life-like that it really startles people. I know it’s a cheap trick but I quite enjoy it.’ Beatrice Behlen, Curator