Because Juliette Gordon Low lived in an era without television or computers, theater (professional and amateur) occupied a great deal of her leisure time. Daisy also enjoyed art, which became her avocation. She studied the paintings of famous artists, poured over published prints of their works, and probably copied them in her art classes. In the late nineteenth century homes were often decorated with reproductions of masterpieces from the likes of Rembrandt and Titian, and they would have been familiar to many people, regardless of class.

Tableaux vivants combined the theater Daisy loved with the art she adored.  A tableau vivant brought a famous painting to life–literally, as people dressed up in costumes exactly like those worn in the painting, assumed the precise pose of the figures on the canvas, and then held the pose while others gazed at them with wonder and appreciation.

This was a popular form of entertainment in Daisy’s time. An evening of tableaux vivants was often very elaborate, so much so that one person had to be the stage manager overseeing the wardrobe, positioning the actors, and ascertaining they were standing perfectly still before the curtain was raised.

Daisy reveled in tableaux vivants. She and her cousins staged them when they were young, and Daisy continued to star in tableaux vivants at school and beyond. Choosing the paintings and the fabulous clothing and hairstyles was great fun. Whole afternoons were whiled away in this happy pastime.

Once when Daisy was staying at a spa in Virginia she learned of the distress of local farmers. She decided to raise money to assist them by creating and directing an evening of tableaux vivants. One of the paintings she featured was “The Hours,” by Edward Greene Malbone (1777-1807). As stage manager Daisy cast her sister and two friends as Past, Present, and Future and posed them just like the painting:

Past, Present, and Future in Malbone’s “The Hours”
The evening was a qualified success, raising a small but respectable sum of money for the farmers and giving Daisy, her friends, and the other visitors to the spa a memorable night.
There are three really interesting things about this story. First, it is a rare example of Daisy’s involvement  in charitable work, something she seldom did. Second, Malbone was born in Rhode Island, home of one of Daisy’s best friends, and he died in at the Mackay house in Daisy’s home town of Savannah, Georgia. Third, in 2007, Virginia Girl Scout Tess Stryk (Troop 4563) researched Malbone’s painting as part of the work toward her silver medal! Tess Stryk learned that in 1854 another teenage girl had raised the money to purchase “The Hours” for the Providence Athenaeum, where it hangs today. Click here for the rest of that story.
It seems there’s an unusual number of good deeds by young women connected to this one painting!