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Beeswax, and now synthetic wax, is used for sculpture because of its translucency, its ability to record fine details, and the ease with which it can be coloured. It was very suitable for portraits and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was used to make replicas of the human anatomy for use in medical schools. It is malleable and can be freely worked with the fingers and hot metal tools, making it popular for making models as in the lost-wax casting technique. It is also used as a protective coating on wood sculpture and can be coloured and brought to a high polish for bronze sculpture.

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Charles Townshend
attributed to Isaac Gosset
circa 1750-1767
NPG 1756

Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe
after John De Vaere
based on a work of 1798
NPG 3313

James Meadows Rendel
by Richard Cockle Lucas
NPG 5902

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield
by Robert Glassby, cast by John Theodore Tussaud
1933, based on a work of 1881
NPG 2655

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