Definition of tableau vivant in English:

tableau vivant


  • A silent and motionless group of people arranged to represent a scene or incident.

    • ‘In Lombardy sculptors and painters together produced realistically detailed tableaux vivants of religious subjects which startle the spectator with their shocking emotional power.’
    • ‘These took place on the shores of the Baltic and included events such as a tableau vivant of Gericault's Raft of the Medusa and a man ‘conducting’ the waves from a platform in the water.’
    • ‘The inner stage could also be used to display tableaux vivants illustrating conventional emblems of mortality.’
    • ‘After 1786, when she moved to Naples to become the mistress of Sir William Hamilton, her famous ‘attitudes’, tableaux vivants in which she assumed poses from classical and later art, helped her to captivate Europe.’
    • ‘Outlined in the halo of street lamps, the guardsmen resembled pieces on a chessboard, or actors in a tableau vivant of war.’
    • ‘He was represented by four works, including several tableaux vivants populated by friends, family, and servants and photographed on his estate.’
    • ‘These efforts culminated at the 1939 World's Fair in a giant Surrealist folly containing a grotto with erotic all-female tableaux vivants, some of them staged underwater.’
    • ‘Audience members will be led through the tunnels of this abandoned military fort to encounter choreographed tableaux vivants that evoke each of the seven deadly sins.’
    • ‘Or, does the seepage of the future into Eric's present suggest past, present and future flash-frozen into a tableau vivant?’
    • ‘As bottle-blonde Maureen, the requisite tragic heroine, Reilly must appear naked in various tableaux vivants.’
    • ‘One of the most obviously formal of these was the ceremony of the royal entry, in which allegorical pageants, tableaux vivants, verse, and music combined to welcome a sovereign or royal spouse into the capital or major city of the realm.’
    • ‘Thanks in part to sensationally beautiful side lighting, the stage pictures look like tableaux vivants composed by 18th-century landscape and portrait masters.’
    • ‘My staff hovered over the delectables, creating a tableau vivant that could have been immortalized by Titian, if he had remembered to bring his brushes.’
    • ‘In this way the whole group - like a tableau vivant - presents a state of affairs.’
    • ‘My favourite piece was a tableau vivant of gung-ho garden gnomes fighting a bloody skirmish, armed to the teeth with power tools.’
    • ‘The arrangement of her family is much like the arrangement of a tableau vivant, an arrangement of life fixed in place.’
    • ‘These sentimental tableaux vivants were often criticized and ridiculed in her own day.’
    • ‘Viola's works are not simple tableaux vivants.’
    • ‘In December 1967, at the very end of his life, Duchamp used a photograph taken by Man Ray of his appearance in Relache to create a copper engraving of the tableau vivant.’
    • ‘The city was all-atwitter with extravagant preparations that included dinners, balls, and tableaux vivants based on the characters of his novels.’
    pageant, human representation, parade, diorama, scene
    View synonyms


French, literally ‘living picture’.


tableau vivant

/ˌtabləʊ ˈviːvɒ̃//tablo vivɑ̃/