Ephemera #2: Curtius's Grand Cabinet of Curiosities
Handbill for Curtius' Grand Cabinet of
Curiosities on New Street. 1796.
For a full size image see below.
Curtius's Grand Cabinet of Curiosities' had begun showing in London in 1795, but began touring the country from the beginning of 1796, arriving in Birmingham in the September. The Cabinet contained items from the collection of Phillippe Curtius, who had died in 1794. Curtius had been a physician who began producing anatomical models, before setting up in business making wax portraits. From the 1770s Curtius began training Marie Grosholtz (later to become Madame Tussaud), and on his death left his collection of waxworks to Marie.
During the French Revolution, after a close encounter with the guillotine herself, Marie was employed to make death masks of the beheaded, including the King and Marie Antoinette. Amongst the collection shown at Birmingham was the head of the Governor of the Bastille as well as a model of the guillotine; all taking advantage of a morbid fascination in the events of the Revolution.