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wax figures

wax figures, sculptures usually made of beeswax or tallow, which is susceptible to modeling, casting, and coloring. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used wax to make sacred images or death masks. Wax has been employed in the cire perdue casting process for sculpture; it is also used in the preparatory stages by sculptors as a sketch or model for the finished work. Polychrome wax portraits were popular in Europe throughout the 18th cent. In the 19th cent., wax dolls came into fashion, and exhibits of wax figures, often portraits of notorious people, were popular. Among such collections Mme Tussaud's, London, and the Musée Grévin, Paris, are famous.

See F. Eliscu, Direct Wax Sculpture (1969); R. McDermott Miller, Figure Sculpture in Wax and Plaster (1971, repr. 1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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