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The Main Wing, Pavilion and Terrace, Osborne House.

Osborne was an important setting for early royal photography

Tableaux Vivants at Osborne

Photograph of the royal children performing the Tableaux of the Seasons. Princess Helena (1846-1923), as 'The Spirit Empress' is standing on a plinth wearing a long dress and holding a cross in her left hand. Prince Alfred (1844-1900), as '

The Royal children as the Four Seasons and the 'Spirit Empress' in the Tableaux of the Seasons ©

Despite Victoria’s extended mourning, theatrical amusements were still part of the life of the royal family. This is demonstrated by various tableau vivant photographs which still survive in the Royal Collection. Tableaux Vivants were performed in private, and not necessarily scenes from plays as such, but recreations of historical events, or scenes from mythology and literature.  

The tradition of tableaux vivants had a special place in Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s early life together, with the royal children arranging a surprise for their parents’ fourteenth wedding anniversary – a performance of The Seasons at Windsor Castle on 10 February 1854, photographed by Roger Fenton.

Explore a selection of photographs below which commemorate tableaux vivants performed at Osborne House.

Hughes & Mullins: Ryde, Isle of Wight

Elaine [tableau vivant flash light photograph]

Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815–91)

La Rixe (The Brawl)

Hughes & Mullins: Ryde, Isle of Wight

Japanese Scene