“It is true, the spoken word enlightens both the spirit and the soul. Indeed, the HENDRICK’S Master Distiller can often be heard talking at length to her ‘two little sweeties’ – the delightful and peculiarly small copper pot stills from which the most unusual gin flows.”
A Waxen France: Madame Tussaud’s Representations of the French
Illustrated Lecture by Pamela Pilbeam Emeritus Professor of French History, Royal Holloway, University of London and author of Madame Tussaud and the History of Waxworks
27th June 2013
Doors at 6:30 / Talk begins at 7:00 pm
Ticket price £7 `You perceive that this is some sort of holy of holiest, the nearest Victorians got to a Cathedral, with its saints enniched within’. The chief saint in Madame Tussaud’s exhibition was Bonaparte, the chief villains were Robespierre and his revolutionary colleagues. When she arrived in Britain in 1802 for a short tour that lasted until she died in 1850, her exhibition was an exploration of the evils of the French Revolution. She had modelled the guillotined revolutionaries, as well as Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, from their severed heads- and brought a model of a guillotine and the Bastille fortress to expose the short comings of the French. The British, busily at war with their nearest neighbour, loved this critical exposure. Later the focus of her collection became her `Shrine to Napoleon’ consisted of two rooms dedicated to the Emperor. Napoleon had always had a leading role in her touring company, but in 1834, when she was a well-established figure in the world of entertainment and about to open a permanent museum in Baker Street, Madame. Tussaud began to amass large quantities of Napoleonic memorabilia. She built up a collection which Napoleon III acknowledged, when he tried abortively to buy it from the Tussauds, to be the best in the world. Madame Tussaud’s presentation of French politics and history did much to inform and influence the popular perception of France among the British. This paper will explore that view and how it changed during the nineteenth century.
Pamela Pilbeam is Emeritus Professor of French History, Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of Madame Tussaud and the History of Waxworks .
The Last Tuesday Society is honoured to house this exhibition and lecture series cultivated in collaboration with Joanna Ebenstein of the rightfully venerated ‘Morbid Anatomy’ Library, Museum & Blog.
Talks take place at The Last Tuesday Society at 11 Mare Street, London, E8 4RP – please click here to buy tickets