Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752-1854) - a fine woven silk La Mémoire portrait Executed in 1839 on the programmable Jacquard loom by Didter Petit et cie, Lyon,
Lot 67*
Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752-1854) - a fine woven silk La Mémoire portrait Executed in 1839 on the programmable Jacquard loom by Didter Petit et cie, Lyon,
Sold for £31,200 (US$ 52,410) inc. premium
Lot Details
Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752-1854) - a fine woven silk La Mémoire portrait
Executed in 1839 on the programmable Jacquard loom by Didter Petit et cie, Lyon,
the known portrait view of Jacquard seated in a workshop interior, model of his loom with loose punch cards, tools and measuring drums arranged on racks behind, view through the musket-ball broken window of a town, wide plain margin, lower right with weaver's name, dated below in Roman numerals, glazed in contempory carved wood gilt frame with gallery and Merchant's Club labels verso - woven image 17 x 13.3/8in (43 x 34cm), the frame 28 x 23in. (71 x 58.5cm)

Footnotes

  • Reference:
    Jacquard's Web - How a Hand Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age, James Essinger, 2004;
    Mechanical Music and Technical Apparatus, Thursday 31 May 2007, christie's, lot 1 (for similar later example)

    When examining the birth of the programmable computer, the medal usually gets awarded to Charles Babbage (1791-1871), a man who, against the modest technology of the day, designed on paper the world's first difference engine capable of handling 200dp of information at the same time.

    Joseph-Marie Jacquard's close connection to the mill industry may be seen as a distraction for those who are not informed as to the sheer cleverness of his mind. Seeing row upon row of manually operated looms weaving multi-tone sheets and fabrics, he stumbled upon an idea of making a semi-automatic tone-selection device, integrated onto the loom, for quicker and more complex patterns.

    Using Jacquard's definition of 40,000 punched-cards for each 'line' per 20-inches of weave, the system worked just as a modern fax machine does today. Each punch in the card directed either a black or a white coloured thread into the headstock of the loom, pin-pointing the desired thread into place. It was also tried in colour-combinations, such as red and yellow, blue and green, although these examples are extremely rare.

    In the 1830s, engravings were a popular medium for use in plates in books and when hand-coloured, for framed studies.
    When an example of this loom-weaved portrait was shown to scholars at the Royal Academy, it was listed and confirmed as being a print of an engraving. A passage in Essinger's book as referenced above confirms notes this amusing confusion. The detail of the weave is quite outstanding, even by today's standards.

    Between 1871-1995, this particular portrait hung in the Merchant's Club - a rather appropriate establishment based in lower Manhattan, made up of members belonging to the textile industry.
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