Over Easter break, I had the pleasure of posing my youngest brother in our bathtub with a baby gate across his lap and a pillow case tied around his head. If this sounds like an exciting way to spend an evening to you, then you should try your hand at creating a tableau vivant!
But what is a tableau vivant you ask? The word is French for “living picture”, and it is essentially a recreation of a scene or event by posing people. In my case, I recreated a famous painting entitled The Death of Marat by Jaques-Louis David from 1793.
To make a tableau vivant, you have to get a little creative. As I mentioned earlier, to make the blankets sit flat, I used a baby gate that my brother balanced on his knees, and I tied a pillowcase around his head. The inkwell was a souvenir shot glass from Ocean City, the dagger I bought at a yard sale for $1.00, and the wooden table that sits beside the tub is a step-stool my grandpa made for me when I was about five. I still use it regularly though since I am only 5’1″. The most challenging part of recreating famous works of art, however, is the fact that it is almost always impossible to pose in the way that figures are painted or sculpted. It was impossible to get the angle of the head right because it just is not humanly possible to do so.
All in all, I think my brother did an excellent job at posing as the murdered famous pro-Jacobin journalist who suffered from a brutal skin disease. I really owe him one!
Tableau vivants are a TON of fun, and I encourage everyone to try it at least once! You’ll get a good laugh out of it for sure!