‘Tableau’ describes a painting or photograph in which characters are arranged for a picturesque effect, acting entirely oblivious to the viewer.
In painting and still photography, a ‘tableau’ refers to a carefully composed scene in which characters are arranged to create a visually striking and dramatic effect. In a tableau, artists meticulously pose, costume, and often use theatrical lighting to recreate a painting or a scene from art history or literature. The individuals in these posed scenes remain still and silent, akin to a frame within a painted canvas, while at times, a wooden frame outline may be used as a visual reference.
On the stage, a tableau denotes a moment when all the characters in a performance freeze for about thirty seconds before resuming their actions as before. This genre of artistic expression reached its peak in popularity in eighteenth-century Europe.