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Object Timeline

1962

  • We acquired this object.

2004

2013

2014

2015

2021

  • You found it!

Woven Portrait (France), mid-19th century

This is a Woven portrait. It was manufactured by Michel-Marie Carquillat. It is dated mid-19th century and 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). It is credited Bequest of Richard Cranch Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf.

Its dimensions are

Warp x Weft: 44.5 x 34.3 cm (17 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.) Loom width: 17 1/2 in.

Cite this object as

Woven Portrait (France), mid-19th century; Manufactured by Michel-Marie Carquillat (Michel-Marie Carquillat (French, 1803–1884)); silk; Warp x Weft: 44.5 x 34.3 cm (17 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.) Loom width: 17 1/2 in.; Bequest of Richard Cranch Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf; 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=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18445621/ |title=Woven Portrait (France), mid-19th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=5 August 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>