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Woven Portrait (France)

This is a Woven portrait. It was manufactured by Michel-Marie Carquillat. We acquired it in 1962. Its medium is silk and its technique is jacquard woven: warp-faced plain weave (white) with supplementary weft patterning (black). It is a part of the Textiles department.

French inventor Joseph-Marie Jacquard, the subject of this woven portrait, also developed the technology used to weave it. His eponymous Jacquard loom, patented in 1805, was the world’s first automated machine for weaving intricate images into silk.
Master weaver Michel-Marie Carquillat designed this extremely complex textile to demonstrate the loom’s capabilities and celebrate the brilliance of its creator. Carquillat used only black and white threads, but packed them closely enough to suggest grayscale shading. This, combined with the fineness and luminosity of the silk, produces an astonishing degree of detail and creates a depth of field that gives the woven picture its three-dimensional quality. Jacquard’s invention employed a system of encoded punch cards, which allowed the loom to feed it precise instructions for each successive row and also stored the information needed to replicate the pattern. Damasks and brocades could be woven as many as twenty-four times faster than previously possible, delivering the French silk industry from poverty to prosperity.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Meet Monsieur Jacquard.

This object was bequest of Richard Cranch Greenleaf (American, 1887–1961).

Cite this object as

Woven Portrait (France); Manufactured by Michel-Marie Carquillat (Michel-Marie Carquillat (French, 1803–1884)); silk; 1962-56-39

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Faster, Cheaper, Newer, More: The Revolutions of 1848.

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Woven Portrait (France) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=17 April 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>