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Living pictures

Tableau of the seasons

Tableaux vivants (or ‘living pictures’) were an extremely popular form of entertainment during the reign of Queen Victoria. They involved dressing up in costumes, using plenty of props, creating a scene from a story, and then staying completely still to hold the pose as a living picture!

Tableau of the seasons©

Why not try to create your own ‘living picture’, either on your own or with members of your family? You could try to recreate one of these images from the Royal Collection ­– this one shows the children of Queen Victoria posing as the different seasons.

Which child do you think is representing each of the seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter? How would you represent one of these seasons – what would you wear and how would you pose?

Balmoral Tableaux-Vivants©

For your tableaux you might want to recreate a moment from a story that you like. This is what Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Alexandra, did in this image from a famous fairy tale.

Can you guess which fairy tale it is?

To create your own living picture, you will need:

  • Costume: Think about what characters you will need for your living picture, and what sorts of clothes they might wear to show who they are. Will they be wearing colourful clothes? Should they look impressive?
  • Props: Are there any important props that could help you to tell your story? Can you find objects in your house that might work for this? Here are some ideas of props you might find at home: brooms, books, toys, blankets, cushions, plants, cardboard … and more!

  • Camera: You can use a camera, or a camera on a mobile phone. To make it look old-fashioned, you could use the ‘sepia’ filter!

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.