Essays On Physiognomy

Essays on
PhysiognomyDesigned to Promote the Knowledge
and the Love of Mankindby
John Caspar Lavater

Essays on Physiognomy

Designed to Promote the Knowledge and the Love of Mankind

by John Caspar Lavater


Of the general objections made to physiognomy 73 Various objections to physiognomy answered 78 On dissimulation, falsehood, and sincerity 83 On freedom and necessity 90 Additions 93 On the harmony of moral and corporeal beauty 95 Additions 1 10 Socrates 113 Additions 122 Miscellaneous physiognomonical exercises 123 Of the union between the knowledge of the heart and philanthropy 129 Of the universal excellence of the form of man 132.

Book Details

ISBN (Cloth)978-0-331-04107-1

Books you might also like...

Primer of
George Saintsbury
Actor's ArtA Practical Treatise on Stage Declamation, Public
Speaking, and Deportment, for the Use of Artists,
Students, and Amateurs, Including a Sketch on the History
of the Theatre, From the Greeks to the Present Timeby
Gustave Garcia

FaciologyHuman Nature; Brains and
Forms; The Science of Characterby
La Vergne Belden Stevens

A Practical and
Familiar View
of the Science
of Physiognomyby
Thomas Cooke
The Bearing
of English
Studies Upon the
National Lifeby
Charles Harold Herford
NumbersTheir Occult Power and Mystic Virtuesby
William Wynn Westcott

Proofs of a Conspiracy
Against All the Religions
and Governments of EuropeCarried on in the Secret Meetings of Free
Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societiesby
John Robison

CharacterologyAn Exact Science, Embracing Physiognomy, Phrenology and
Pathognomy, Reconstructed, Amplified and Amalgamated, and Including
Views Concerning Memory and Reson and the Location of These
Faculties Within the Brain Likewise Facial and Cranial Indications of Lby
L. Hamilton McCormick

The Anatomy and
Philosophy of
Expression as
Connected With
the Fine Artsby
Charles Bell
of GoetheFrom the German of Falk, Von Müller,
&C., With Notes, Original and Translated,
Illustrative of German Literatureby
Sarah Austin

Vol. 2 of 3
Treatise on the Influence
of Climate on the Human
Species, and on the Varieties
of Men Resulting From ItIncluding an Account of the Criteria of Intelligence Which
the Form of the Head Presents, and a Sketch of a Rational
System of Physiognomy as Founded on Physiologyby
Nicholas C. Pitta

The Secret
of Spiritual
George D. Watson
Hints to Young
Students of
L. W. Rogers
Human Faces,
What They Mean!How to Read Personal Characterby
Joseph Simms

Heads and Faces, and
How to Study ThemA Manual of Phrenology and
Physiognomy for the Peopleby
Nelson Sizer

The Artist's
Repository, or
Encyclopedia of
Fine Arts, 1815The Human Figureby
Unknown Author

Vol. 1
A Book of Images
Drawn by W.
T. Horton and
by W. B. Yeatsby
William Thomas Horton
On the Philosophy
of HistoryAn Address to the Historical Society,
University of Glasgow, January 8, 1909by
William Paton Ker

Law and LatinHow I Was “Exposed” By
Mr. J. M. Robertson, M. Pby
George Greenwood

Painting, Sculpture
and Architecture as
Representative ArtsAn Essay in Comparative Æstheticsby
George Lansing Raymond

The Meaning of
Truth in HistoryBeing the Creighton Lecture for
the Year 1913-14, Delivered Before
the University on March 6th, 1914by
Viscount Haldane

The English
Drama in the Age
of Shakespeareby
Wilhelm Creizenach
How to
Make UpA Practical Guide for
Amateurs and Beginnersby
S. J. Adair Fitz-Gerald

Vol. 26
PhysiognomyOr, the Corresponding Analogy Between
the Conformation of the Features
and the Ruling Passions of the Mindby
J. C. Lavater

The Key to
the UniverseOr a Spiritual Interpretation
of Numbers and Symbolsby
Harriette Augusta Curtiss

Sheila Kaye-Smith
Why the
Mind Has
a Bodyby
Charles Augustus Strong
Portraitures of
Julius CaesarA Monographby
Frank Jesup Scott

The Secret
of Plato's
John Francis Arundell of Wardour
or the Laws of
Female BeautyBeing the Elementary
Principles of That Scienceby
T. Bell

Things Kept
Secret From
the Foundation
of the Worldby
Unknown Author
of GoetheFrom the German of Falk, Von Müllerby
Sarah Austin

Vol. 1 of 3
Character Building
and ReadingA Correlation of the Facts of Psychology
and Physiology in Their Relation to
Soul Discipline and Physiognomyby
Jean Morris Ellis

The Anthropological Treatises
of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach,
Late Professor at Göttingen
and Court Physician to
the King of Great BritainWith Memoirs of Him by Marx and Flourens, and
an Account of His Anthropological Museum by
Professor R. Wagner; And the Inaugural Dissertation
of John Hunter, M.D., On the Varieties of Manby
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

The Strategy
of LifeA Book for Boys and Young Menby
Arthur Porritt

PhrenologyIn Connexion With the Study of Physiognomy;
Characters, With Thirty-Four Platesby
G. Spurzheim

Vol. 1
The Study of
Children and
Their School
Francis Warner
TemperamentsOr the Varieties of Physical
Constitution in Manby
D. H. Jacques

The Student's
Text Book on
Character ReadingEspecially Adapted for Use in School,
and for the Student Who Would Become
a Practical Delineator of Characterby
Mrs. V. P. English

Shakespeare and
the Founders
of Liberty
in Americaby
Charles Mills Gayley
Goethe and the
Romanticists in
Their Attitude
Towards Shakespeareby
Caroline Pauline Barbara Schoch
Rise and Fall
in Shakespeare's
Dramatic Artby
Roman Dyboski
How to Read
CharacterA New Illustrated Handbook of Phrenology
and Physiognomy, for Students and
Examiners; With a Descriptive Chartby
Samuel Roberts Wells

Handbook for
Teachers of EnglishQuestions and Topics for Study
Based on Merrill's English Textsby
Charles E. Merrill

The Expression
of the Emotions
in Man and
Charles Darwin
Essays on
PhysiognomyDesigned to Promote the Knowledge
and the Love of Mankindby
John Caspar Lavater

Paracelsus of
the Supreme
Mysteries of NatureOf the Spirits of the Planets, of Occult Philosophy; The
Magical, Sympathetical, and Antipathetical Cure of Wounds
and Diseases; The Mysteries of the Twelve Signs of the Zodiacby

New Chapters in
the History of
Greek LiteratureRecent Discoveries in Greek Poetry and Prose
of the Fourth and Following Centuries B. Cby
J. U. Powell

New System of
Physiognomony or
the Art of Knowing
Men by Their Eyesby
Mariano Aguirre de Venero
Book-LoverA Guide to the Best Readingby
James Baldwin

The Anthropological Treatises
of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach,
Late Professor at Gottingen
and Court Physician to
the King of Great BritainWith Memoirs of Him by Marx and Flourens,
and an Account of His Anthropological
Museum by Professor R. Wagnerby
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Alberto Randegger
Manual of
Ancient SculptureEgyptian Assyrian Greek Roman, With One Hundred
and Sixty Illustrations a Map of Ancient Greece and a
Chronological List of Ancient Sculptors and Their Worksby
George Redford

A Tennyson
PrimerWith a Critical Essayby
William Macneile Dixon

Lacon, or
Many Things
in Few WordsAddressed to Those Who Thinkby
Caleb Charles Colton

Sea-Air and
Sea-BathingTheir Influence on Health; A Practical
Guide for the Use of Visitors at the Sea-Sideby
Charles Parsons

Criminal Man,
According to the
Classification of
Cesare Lombrosoby
Gina Lombroso-Ferrero
Dante and
His Early
Edward Moore
and MindOr, Mental Science Considered in Accordance
With the Principles of Phrenology,
and in Relation to Modern Physiologyby
Henry S. Drayton

Magnetism, or
Mesmerism and
Its Phenomenaby
William Gregory

"Lavater" redirects here. For the surname, see Lavater (surname).

Johann Kaspar (or Caspar) Lavater (15 November 1741 – 2 January 1801) was a Swisspoet, writer, philosopher, physiognomist and theologian.

Early life[edit]

Lavater was born in Zürich, and was educated at the Gymnasium there, where J. J. Bodmer and J. J. Breitinger were amongst his teachers.

Corruption fighter[edit]

At barely twenty-one years of age, Lavater greatly distinguished himself by denouncing, in conjunction with his friend Henry Fuseli the painter, an iniquitous magistrate, who was compelled to make restitution of his ill-gotten gains.


In 1769 Lavater took Holy Orders in Zurich's Zwinglian Church, and officiated until his death as deacon or pastor in churches in his native city. His oratorical fervor and genuine depth of conviction gave him great personal influence; he was extensively consulted as a casuist, and was welcomed with enthusiasm on his journeys throughout Germany. His writings on mysticism were widely popular as well.

In the same year (1769), Lavater tried to convert Moses Mendelssohn to Christianity, by sending him a translation of Charles Bonnet's Palingénésie philosophique, and demanding that he either publicly refute Bonnet's arguments or convert. Mendelssohn refused to do either, and many prominent intellectuals took Mendelssohn's side, including Lichtenberg and Herder.


Lavater is most well known for his work in the field of physiognomy, Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe, published between 1775 and 1778. He introduced the idea that physiognomy related to the specific character traits of individuals, rather than general types.[1]

The fame of this book, which found admirers in France and England as well as Germany, rests largely upon the handsome style of publication and the accompanying illustrations.[citation needed]

The two principal sources from which Lavater developed his physiognomical studies were the writings of the Italian polymathGiambattista della Porta, and the observations made by Sir Thomas Browne in his Religio Medici (translated into German in 1748 and praised by Lavater).


As a poet, Lavater published Christliche Lieder (1776–1780) and two epics, Jesus Messias (1780) and Joseph von Arimathia (1794), in the style of Klopstock. More relevant to the religious temperament of Lavater's times are his introspective Aussichten in die Ewigkeit (4 vols. 1768-1778), Geheimes Tagebuch von einem Beobachter seiner selbst (2 vols., 1772–1773), and Pontius Pilatus, oder der Mensch in allen Gestalten (4 vols., 1782–1785).


From 1774 on, Goethe was intimately acquainted with Lavater, but later had a falling out with him, accusing him of superstition and hypocrisy.


In 1788 William Blake annotated Lavater's Aphorisms of Man.[2][3] Lavater published 632 aphorisms in all. Blake considered the following aphorism to be an excellent example of an aphorism. "40. Who, under pressing temptations to lie, adheres to truth, nor to the profane betrays aught of a sacred trust, is near the summit of wisdom and virtue."

Last days[edit]

During his later years, Lavater's influence waned, and he incurred considerable ridicule due to his vanity. His conduct during the French occupation of Switzerland brought about his death. On the taking of Zürich by the French in 1799, Lavater, while trying to appease the aggressors, was shot by an infuriated grenadier; he died over a year later, after protracted sufferings borne with great fortitude.

The Swiss artist and illustrator, Warja Honegger-Lavater, was a direct descendent of Johann Kaspar Lavater.


  • Vermischte Schriften (2 vols., 1774–1781)
  • Kleinere prosaische Schriften (3 vols., 1784–1785)
  • Nachgelassene Schriften (5 vols., 1801–1802)
  • Sämtliche Werke (poems only; 6 vols., 1836–1838)
  • Ausgewählte Schriften (8 vols., 1841–1844).


  • The Faces of physiognomy : interdisciplinary approaches to Johann Caspar Lavater. Edited by Ellis Shookman. Columbia, SC : Camden House, 1993. (ISBN 1879751518)
  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lavater, Johann Kaspar". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

Image of woodcut from Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe (1775-1778)
Lavater's Apparatus for Taking Silhouettes.--(From an ancient engraving of 1783)

0 thoughts on “Essays On Physiognomy”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *