Charlie Campbell

The Body-Snatchers

Madame Tussaud and the History of Waxworks

By

Hambledon & London 287pp £19.95 order from our bookshop

WAXWORKS HAVE LONG stood at the crossroads of high and low culture, an uneasy mix of art and junk. For many, wax had a sacred function: the ancient Persians and Egyptians used it to embalm their dead; wax figures appeared in Greek and Roman funeral processions, in Catholic and Orthodox churches, and in European royal funerals. On a practical level, wax models were used by surgeons to teach anatomy when body-snatching became harder, and were favoured by early pornographers. Finally, waxworks served to entertain the public, with their portraits of crime, deformity and royalty.

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