1889 Living Picture or Clockwork Tableau

Posted by on December 8th,2007

Naughty Norman - Living Picture of a Frustrated Photographer

Mrs Beverly (she of Jack and Beverly’s Images of Photographers) wrote to tell me about a lovely item they recently collected – a living picture, or clockwork tableau, from 1889 Germany.  Showing a photographer with his troublesome victim or portrait subject, this coloured image set in a wooden frame has a clockwork mechanism at the back that controls the moving parts – the hand on the lens, the legs of the boy, even his tongue sticking out at the most inappropriate times!  What a wonderful thing to have on your wall – simply wind it up and the little play acts out over and over.  The photographer lifts off the lens and the boy starts playing up – apparently a common theme in early photography humour!

There’s a video showing the movement over at Berverly and Jack’s site – high tech in 1889, I’m sure!  Quite lovely, and the possiblities for other scenes, more Steampunk scenes, bubble over in my mind!  I did try to find other information about Living Pictures and Clockwork Tableau – but instead I found an amusing wikipedia article on Tableau Vivant – particularly the amusing part about circumnavigating the English censors in WWII!  Any more information about more of these lovely creations would be appreciated!