Wax sculpture

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Anna of Tyrol by Alessandro Abondio, 1618 Anna von Tirol.jpg
Anna of Tyrol by Alessandro Abondio, 1618
The funeral effigy (without clothes) of Elizabeth of York, mother of King Henry VIII, 1503, Westminster Abbey Elizabeth of york - funeral effigy.jpg
The funeral effigy (without clothes) of Elizabeth of York, mother of King Henry VIII, 1503, Westminster Abbey
The Beatles at Madame Tussauds London The Beatles wax dummies.jpg
The Beatles at Madame Tussauds London
Cecilia Cheung at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong CeciliaCheung MadameTussauds.jpg
Cecilia Cheung at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong

A wax sculpture is a depiction made using a waxy substance. Often these are effigies, usually of a notable individual, but there are also death masks and scenes with many figures, mostly in relief.

Depiction is reference conveyed through pictures. Basically a picture refers to its object through a non-linguistic two-dimensional scheme. A picture is not writing or notation. A depictive two-dimensional scheme is called a picture plane and may be constructed according to descriptive geometry where they are usually divided between projections and perspectives. Pictures are made with various materials and techniques, such as painting, drawing, or prints mosaics, tapestries, stained glass, and collages of unusual and disparate elements. Occasionally, picture-like features may be recognised in simple inkblots, accidental stains, peculiar clouds or a glimpse of the moon, but these are special cases, and it is controversial whether they count as genuine instances of depiction. Similarly, sculpture and theatrical performances are sometimes said to depict, but this requires a broad understanding of 'depict', as simply designating a form of representation that is not linguistic or notational. The bulk of studies of depiction however deal only with pictures. While sculpture and performance clearly represent or refer, they do not strictly picture their objects.

Effigy Representation of a person through art

An effigy is a representation of a specific person in the form of sculpture or some other three-dimensional medium. The use of the term is normally restricted to certain contexts in a somewhat arbitrary way: recumbent effigies on tombs are so called, but standing statues of individuals, or busts, are usually not. Likenesses of religious figures in sculpture are not normally called effigies. Effigies are common elements of funerary art, especially as a recumbent effigy in stone or metal placed on a tomb, or a less permanent "funeral effigy", placed on the coffin in a grand funeral, wearing real clothing.

Death mask wax or plaster cast made of a person’s face following death

A death mask is a likeness of a person's face following death, often made by taking a cast or impression directly from the corpse. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits. Such casts obviate idealised representations by revealing the actual features. It is sometimes possible to identify portraits that have been painted from death masks, because of the characteristic slight distortions of the features caused by the weight of the plaster during the making of the mold.

Contents

The properties of beeswax make it an excellent medium for preparing figures and models, either by modeling or by casting in molds. It can easily be cut and shaped at room temperature, melts at a low temperature, mixes with any coloring matter, takes surface tints well, and its texture and consistency may be modified by the addition of earthy matters and oils or fats. When molten, it is highly responsive to impressions from a mold and, once it sets and hardens, its form is relatively resilient against ordinary temperature variations, even when it is cast in thin laminae. These properties have seen wax used for modelling since the Middle Ages and there is testimony for it having been used for making masks (particularly death masks) in ancient Rome. [1] The death masks of illustrious ancestors would be displayed by the elite holding the right of "ius imaginem." [2]

Beeswax chemical compound

Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. The wax is formed into scales by eight wax-producing glands in the abdominal segments of worker bees, which discard it in or at the hive. The hive workers collect and use it to form cells for honey storage and larval and pupal protection within the beehive. Chemically, beeswax consists mainly of esters of fatty acids and various long-chain alcohols.

Molding (process) adding a soft but not fully liquid material into a mold (like wet clay)

Molding or moulding is the process of manufacturing by shaping liquid or pliable raw material using a rigid frame called a mold or matrix. This itself may have been made using a pattern or model of the final object.

History

Effigies

The display of temporary or permanent effigies in wax and other media of the deceased was a common part of the funeral ceremonies of very important people in European historical times. Most of the figures would wear the real clothes of the deceased so they could be made quickly. The museum of Westminster Abbey has a collection of British royal wax effigies, as well as those of figures such as the naval hero Horatio Nelson, and Frances Stewart, Duchess of Richmond, who also had her parrot stuffed and displayed. The effigy of Charles II of England (1680) was displayed over his tomb until the early 19th century, when all were removed from the abbey itself. [3] Nelson's effigy was a pure tourist attraction, commissioned the year after his death in 1805, and his burial in St Paul's Cathedral after a government decision that major public figures should in future be buried there. Concerned for their revenue from visitors, the Abbey decided it needed a rival attraction for admirers of Nelson. [4]

Westminster Abbey Church in London

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

Frances Stewart, Duchess of Richmond prominent member of the Court of the Restoration

Frances Teresa Stewart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox was a prominent member of the Court of the Restoration and famous for refusing to become a mistress of Charles II of England. For her great beauty she was known as La Belle Stuart and served as the model for an idealised, female Britannia.

Charles II of England 17th-century King of England, Ireland and Scotland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death.

Middle Ages

The practice of wax modelling can be traced through the Middle Ages, when votive offerings of wax figures were made to churches. The memory and lineaments of monarchs and great personages were preserved by means of wax masks. [1]

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Church (building) Building used for Christian religious activities

A church building or church house, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for Christian worship services. The term is often used by Christians to refer to the physical buildings where they worship, but it is sometimes used to refer to buildings of other religions. In traditional Christian architecture, a church interior is often structured in the shape of a Christian cross. When viewed from plan view the vertical beam of the cross is represented by the center aisle and seating while the horizontal beam and junction of the cross is formed by the bema and altar.

During this period, superstition found expression in the formation of wax images of hated persons, into which long pins were thrust, in the confident expectation that thereby deadly injury would be induced to the person represented. This practice was considered more effective when some portion of the victim's hair or nails were added to the wax figure, thus strengthening the connection with its actual subject. This belief and practice continued until the 17th century, though the superstition survived into the 19th century. In the Scottish Highlands, a clay model of an enemy was found in a stream in 1885, having been placed there in the belief that, as the clay was washed away, so would the health of the hated one decline. [1]

Hair protein filament that grows from follicles found in the dermis, or skin

Hair is a protein filament that grows from follicles found in the dermis. Hair is one of the defining characteristics of mammals. The human body, apart from areas of glabrous skin, is covered in follicles which produce thick terminal and fine vellus hair. Most common interest in hair is focused on hair growth, hair types, and hair care, but hair is also an important biomaterial primarily composed of protein, notably alpha-keratin.

Nail (anatomy) hard projection of digit

A nail is a horn-like keratinous envelope covering the tips of the fingers and toes in most primates. Nails evolved from claws found in other animals. Fingernails and toenails are made of a tough protective protein called alpha-keratin which is found in the hooves, hair, claws and horns of vertebrates.

Scottish Highlands Place

The Highlands is a historic region of Scotland. Culturally, the Highlands and the Lowlands diverged from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands. The term is also used for the area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, although the exact boundaries are not clearly defined, particularly to the east. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name of A' Ghàidhealtachd literally means "the place of the Gaels" and traditionally, from a Gaelic-speaking point of view, includes both the Western Isles and the Highlands.

Renaissance

During the Italian Renaissance, modeling in wax took a position of high importance, and it was practised by some of the greatest of the early masters. The bronze medallions of Pisanello and of the other famous medalists owe their value to the properties of wax: all early bronzes and metalwork were cast from wax models first.

Italian Renaissance Cultural movement from the 14th to 17th century

The Italian Renaissance was a period of Italian history that began in the 14th century (Trecento) and lasted until the 17th century (Seicento). It peaked during the 15th (Quattrocento) and 16th (Cinquecento) centuries, spreading across Europe and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity. The French word renaissance means "Rebirth" and defines the period as one of cultural revival and renewed interest in classical antiquity after the centuries labeled the Dark Ages by Renaissance humanists. The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari used the term "Rebirth" in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the works of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt.

Pisanello Italian medalist

Pisanello, known professionally as Antonio di Puccio Pisano or Antonio di Puccio da Cereto, also erroneously called Vittore Pisano by Giorgio Vasari, was one of the most distinguished painters of the early Italian Renaissance and Quattrocento. He was acclaimed by poets such as Guarino da Verona and praised by humanists of his time, who compared him to such illustrious names as Cimabue, Phidias and Praxiteles.

Bronze metal alloy

Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability.

There are a number of very high quality wax figures from the 16th and 17th centuries, mostly portrait figures and religious or mythological scenes, often with many figures. Antonio Abondio (1538–91) pioneered the coloured wax portrait miniature in relief, working mainly for the Habsburg and other courts of Northern Europe, and his son Alessandro continued in his footsteps.

Towards the close of the 18th century, modeling of medallion portraits and of relief groups, the latter frequently polychromatic, was in considerable vogue throughout Europe. Many of the artists were women. John Flaxman executed in wax many portraits and other relief figures which Josiah Wedgwood translated into pottery for his Jasperware. The National Portrait Gallery has 40 wax portraits, mostly from this period. [1]

The famous wax bust attributed to Leonardo da Vinci acquired in 1909 by the Museum of Berlin is the work of an English forger who worked about 1840. The wax model of a head, at the Wicar Museum at Lille, belongs probably to the school of Canova, which robs it of none of its exquisite grace. [5]

Today

Wax-works, not intended as fine art, subsequently became popular attractions, consisting principally of images of historical or notorious personages, made up of waxen masks on lay figures in which sometimes mechanism is fitted to give motion to the figure. Such an exhibition of wax-works with mechanical motions was shown in Germany early in the eighteenth century.

The most famous modern waxwork exhibition is that of Madame Tussauds, where the technology of animatronics brings the wax figures to life.

Waxworks are frequently made presented by contemporary artists who take advantage of its lifelike and uncanny qualities. While the artist often creates a wax self-portrait, there are examples too of imaginary personalities and historical personae. For example, Gavin Turk had his portrait made as Sid Vicious ("Pop", Waxwork in vitrine 279 x 115 x 115 cm, 1993), Jan Fabre as a notorious thief (homage to Jacques Mesrine (Bust) II, 2008. Lifesize. Private collection.ta.) Contemporary artists working with wax include Beth B, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Maurizio Cattelan, Peta Coyne, Eleanor Crook, Robert Gober, John Isaacs, Wendy Mayer, Pascale Pollier, Chantal Pollier, Sigrid Sarda, Gil Shachar and Kiki Smith. Techniques include body casting using alginate and silicone rubber moulds, and hand modelling which creates unique forms and distortions.

The museum of medieval torture instruments in Amsterdam also used wax figures in order to demonstrate the use of machines and tools of their display. [6]

Use in moulage

The modeling of the soft parts of dissections, teaching illustrations of anatomy, was first practised at Florence during the Renaissance. The practice of moulage, or the depiction of human anatomy and different diseases taken from directly casting from the body using (in the early period) gelatine moulds, later alginate or silicone moulds, used wax as its primary material (later to be replaced by latex and rubber). Some moulages were directly cast from the bodies of diseased subjects, others from healthy subjects to which disease features( blisters, sores, growths, rashes) were skilfully applied with wax and pigments. During the 19th century, moulage evolved into three-dimensional, realistic representations of diseased parts of the human body. These can be seen in many European medical museums, notably the Spitzner collection currently in Brussels, the Charite Hospital museum in Berlin and the Gordon Museum of Pathology at Guy's Hospital in London UK. A comprehensive book monograph on moulages is "Diseases in Wax: the History of Medical Moulage" by Thomas Schnalke (Author) the director of the Charite Museum and Kathy Spatschek (Translator)

Wax museums

A wax museum or waxworks consists of a collection of wax figures representing famous people from history and contemporary personalities exhibited in lifelike poses. Wax museums often have a special section dubbed the "chamber of horrors" in which the more grisly exhibits are displayed.

Related Research Articles

Wax museum museum displaying a collection of wax representations of famous people

A wax museum or waxworks usually consists of a collection of wax sculptures representing famous people from history and contemporary personalities exhibited in lifelike poses, wearing real clothes.

Madame Tussauds Wax museum in London

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in London; it has smaller museums in a number of other major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. It used to be spelled as "Madame Tussaud's"; the apostrophe is no longer used. Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying the waxworks of famous and historical figures, as well as popular film and television characters from famous actors

Moulage art of applying mock injuries

Moulage is the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical and military personnel. Moulage may be as simple as applying pre-made rubber or latex "wounds" to a healthy "patient's" limbs, chest, head, etc., or as complex as using makeup and theatre techniques to provide elements of realism to the training simulation. The practice dates to at least the Renaissance, when wax figures were used for this purpose.

Marie Tussaud French artist

Anna Maria "Marie" Tussaud was a French artist known for her wax sculptures and Madame Tussauds, the wax museum she founded in London.

Musée Grévin museum in Paris

The Musée Grévin is a wax museum in Paris located on the Grands Boulevards in the 9th arrondissement on the right bank of the Seine, at 10, Boulevard Montmartre, Paris, France. It is open daily; an admission fee is charged. The musée Grévin also has locations in Montreal and Seoul.

Madame Tussaud's Rock Circus, was a walk-through exhibition celebrating the history of rock and pop music, featuring its major figures recreated in wax. It was located at the top four floors of the then-newly refurbished London Pavilion building at Piccadilly Circus, London. Predominantly British artists featured, but many American artists were also included. The attraction told the story of rock and pop from the 1950s to the then-present day by using videos, music, narration and audio-animatronic figures.

Philippe Curtius German artist

Philippe Curtius (1737–1794) was a Swiss physician and wax modeller who taught Marie Tussaud the art of wax modelling.

Louis Tussaud British museum creator

Louis Joseph Kenny Tussaud was the great-grandson of Marie Tussaud, creator of the Madame Tussauds wax museums. He worked at Madame Tussauds museum as a wax figure sculptor but left when his brother John Theodore Tussaud became chief artist and manager of the museum after a limited company was formed in 1888 and sold in 1889. The main shareholder was Edwin Josiah Poyser.

Patience Wright sculptor

Patience Lovell Wright was a sculptor of wax figures, and the first recognized American-born sculptor.

<i>Waxwork</i> (film) 1988 film by Anthony Hickox

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Madame Tussauds Las Vegas museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

Madame Tussauds Las Vegas is a wax museum located in the Las Vegas Strip at The Venetian Las Vegas casino resort in Paradise, Nevada. The attraction opened in 1999, becoming the first Madame Tussauds venue to open in the United States. It features over 100 wax figures of famous celebrities, film and TV characters, athletes, musicians and Marvel superheroes, as well a 4D movie theatre. Subsequent Madame Tussauds venues opened in the U.S in New York City in 2000, Washington D.C. in 2007, and Hollywood, California in 2009.

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong wax museum in Hong Kong

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, is part of the renowned chain of wax museums founded by Marie Tussaud of France, is located at the Peak Tower on Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong. It is the first Madame Tussauds museums in Asia, the other being the Shanghai branch, which opened in 2006 and the third branch at Bangkok which opened in 2010. The Hong Kong branch houses nearly 100 wax figures of internationally known personalities, with Asian figures taking up more than a third of the total, of which sixteen were Hong Kongers. The wax figures are featured in a range of themed settings such as Hong Kong Glamour, Music Icons, Historical and National Heroes, The Champions and World Premiere.

Alfred Grévin French artist

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David Goode (sculptor) sculptor

David Goode is a British sculptor.

Louis Wiltshire is a British sculptor.

Chamber of Horrors (Madame Tussauds)

The Chamber of Horrors was an original exhibition at Madame Tussauds in London, being an exhibition of waxworks of notorious murderers and other infamous historical figures. The gallery first opened as a 'Separate Room' in Marie Tussaud's 1802 exhibition in London and quickly became a success as it showed historical personalities and artifacts rather than the freaks of nature popular in other waxworks of the day. It closed permanently in April 2016.

Madame Tussauds New York

Madame Tussauds New York is a tourist attraction located on 42nd Street in the heart of Times Square in New York City. Voted as one of New York’s most unique attractions, Madame Tussauds is the only place with no ropes or barriers holding their guests back from experiencing thousands of celebs, stars, and heroes in mind-blowing accurate detail. Madame Tussauds was founded by the wax sculptor, Marie Tussaud, and is now operated by the United Kingdom-based entertainment company, Merlin Entertainments. The Madame Tussauds New York location opened in November 15, 2000 with five floors of attraction space and over 100 figures. Now with over 85,000 square feet of interactive entertainment, it has quickly become a popular destination in New York City.

Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.

Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. is a wax museum located in Washington D.C., the capital city of the United States. The attraction opened in October 2007 and became the 12th Madame Tussauds venue worldwide. and features wax sculptures of famous figures from politics, culture, sports, music and television. In comparison to other Madame Tussauds venues, the venue features more waxworks of political figures, with sculptures of all 45 U.S. presidents displayed.

Madame Tussauds Blackpool is a wax museum located in Blackpool, United Kingdom. The attraction opened in 2011, replacing the previous Louis Tussauds waxworks. It features over 80 wax figures of famous celebrities, film and television characters, athletes and musicians.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 430 of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. "Funerals in Ancient Rome". Mariamilani.com. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  3. Photo at Victoria & Albert Museum; Westminster Abbey
  4. Westminster Abbey, "Horatio, Viscount Nelson".
  5. Gillet, Louis. "Leonardo da Vinci." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 27 Jun. 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15440a.htm>.
  6. http://www.torturemuseumamsterdam.com/

PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). " article name needed ". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.