Pictures machine woven from colorful silk strands were first produced in the 1860s by the Englishman Thomas Stevens. He adapted Jacquard looms, designed to weave intricate decorative patterns, to produce figurative designs. (Jacquard looms created their designs by means of a series of punch-cards that regulated the color and placement of the strands, a method that was, interestingly, an early ancestor of computer programing). The resulting “Stevengraph” process was quickly adopted by various manufacturers in Britain’s textile industry, and the resulting bookmarks, pictures, portraits, and postcards became very collectible — and still are today.
This is a very rare and unusual example of a large landscape Stevengraph, dating from the early 20th century. The picture is the view from Victoria Peak, located in the (then) British colony of Hong Kong, looking out over Victoria Harbor to mainland China. Judging from the style of architecture and its density, this scene dates from the late Victorian era, c. 1890 — a view that looks rather different today! (See below.)
An absolutely fascinating example of art, industry, social and colonial history woven together in a single, beautiful textile.