Woven Portrait of Jospeh Marie Jacquard

Jacquard-woven picture “A la memoire de J.M. Jacquard” after the original by C. Bonnefond, Lyons, France, 1839, silk.
Courtesy of Science Museum London

This portrait of Jacquard was over a long time in the possession of Charles Babbage, an English mathematician and inventor. Upon closer inspection, the image dissolves into countless dots. Jacquard developed mechanical weaving technology based on the use of punch cards. This portrait required 24,000 punch cards, each with 1000 punches.

“‘It is a known fact’ [Babbage] wrote, ‘that the Jacquard loom is capable of weavig any design which the imagination of man may conceive’. The portrait was a five-feet-square ‘sheet of woven silk, framed and glazed, but looking so perfectly like an engraving, that it has been mistaken for such by two members of the Royal Academy.'”

Sadie Plant: Zeros + Ones. Digital Women and the New Technoculture, London 1998, p. 16.