I came across this image of an impression of Marie Antoinette’s head, made by Madame Tussaud shortly after the queen’s execution. It’s eerie and a bit gruesome – perfect for Halloween.
During the height of the French Revolution, Madame Tussaud’s services were in high demand. Known for her unique talent for creating realistic wax figures, she was often commissioned to depict notable figures of the French Revolution. To accurately model the facial features of the person, she sometimes made a ‘death mask’ of the person to work from. She was often obliged to make wax figures of notable people who’d been executed by the guillotine, which is why she had to use death masks instead of modeling from life. Marie Antoinette wasn’t the only one to undergo the process of having a death mask taken; apparently Madame Tussaud also arrived on the scene of Marat’s murder, to make his death mask, so quickly that his assassin Charlotte Corday was still being processed by law enforcement.
Since we’re on the subject of Madame Tussaud, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend you read the novel of the same name by Michelle Moran, if you haven’t already. It’s a tense and sweeping depiction of a fascinating woman and the turbulence of the French Revolution. And if you’re looking for a bit more on doomed queen Marie Antoinette and the escalation of the revolution, please don’t forget my own The Wardrobe Mistress!