attributed to Francis Tussaud
chalk, circa 1842
15 in. x 11 in. (381 mm x 279 mm)
Given by the sitter's great-grandson, John Theodore Tussaud, 1924
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This portraitback to top
Born in Strasbourg, France, Marie Grosholtz was brought up in Switzerland and Paris. Her widowed mother was the housekeeper to Philippe Curtius, a German-born doctor and talented modeller in wax, who in 1770 opened an exhibition of life-size figures in Paris. Marie Grosholtz studied under Dr Curtius and in 1794 she inherited the wax exhibition from him. A year later she married the civil engineer Francois Tussaud. She later left her husband and, with her two young sons, moved to England where she toured her wax exhibition for thirty-three years. Madame Tussaud eventually decided to give the exhibition a permanent home in London where it still thrives. This chalk portrait of her was drawn by her younger son Francis who, with his brother Joseph, inherited the wax museum on the death of their mother in 1850.
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Events of 1842back to top
Current affairsEdwin Chadwick publishes his damning report, Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Poor, which details the shocking living conditions of the urban poor and prompts government to take a new interest in public health issues.
A year-long depression and the rejection of the Chartist petition leads to riots, with workers striking in the Midlands, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and parts of Scotland.
Art and scienceMudie's Lending Library opens, becoming one of the largest circulating libraries in the period. Made popular by the otherwise high cost of books, it exerts a great influence over literature; both by maintaining the more costly 'three decker' novel structure, and acting as moral censor.
Richard Owen, the English biologist, comparative anatomist and palaeontologist, coins the term 'dinosaur', combining the Greek words for 'formidable' and 'reptile'.