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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  Essays on physiognomy, designed to promote the knowledge and the love of mankind. By John Caspar Lavater, citizen of zurich, and minister of the Gospel. Illustrated by more than eight hundred engravings accurately copied; and some duplicates added from originals. Executed by, or under the inspection of Thomas Holloway. Translated from the French by Henry Hunter, D.D. ... Volume I. (-III.).
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LAVATER, Johann Caspar (1741--1801)
[Physiognomische Fragmente. English]
Essays on physiognomy, designed to promote the knowledge and the love of mankind. By John Caspar Lavater, citizen of zurich, and minister of the Gospel. Illustrated by more than eight hundred engravings accurately copied; and some duplicates added from originals. Executed by, or under the inspection of Thomas Holloway. Translated from the French by Henry Hunter, D.D. ... Volume I. (-III.).
London: printed for John Murray; H.Hunter; and T.Holloway, 1789. (1792, 1798).
3 vols in 5 ; 35.5 cm. (4º)
I: [12], iv, [20], 281, [1] p., [15] pl. (ports.) : [79] engr. illus.
II.1: xii, 238 p., [45] pl. (ports.) : [80] engr. illus.
II.2: [7], 240--444 p., [47] pl. (ports.) :[64] engr. illus.
III.1: xii, 252 p., [13] p., [24] pl. (ports.) : [82] engr. illus.
III.2: [6], 253--437, [13] p., [42] pl. (ports.) : [59] engr. illus.

'The English Translator's Preface' is signed: Henry Hunter and dated December 24, 1798. Imprint varies: vol. III is printed for Murray and Highley; H. Hunter; and T. Holloway, 1798. Volumes II and III are in two parts, each having a half-title only. Lavater’s Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung von Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe was first published in German in 1775--78. The English edition is a translation from volumes I--III of the French edition printed at The Hague in 1781—87, and was originally issued in 41 parts in 1788—99 (see New York Public Library, The Arents collection of books in parts, New York 1957, p. 74). The posthumous fourth volume (1803) of the French edition was never translated. Defined as the art or 'science' of judging a person's character based on external appearance, physiognomy dates back as far as Aristotle and was rediscovered in Europe late in the eighteenth century. The Swiss pastor Johann Caspar Lavater was the leading proponent of this revival. His 'Essays' sparked a 'physiognomania' that spread quickly across Europe, influencing art, literature, and daily social life. The book was reprinted, abridged, summarized, pirated, parodied, imitated, and reviewed so often 'that it is difficult to imagine how a literate person of the time could have failed to have some general knowledge of the man and his theories'. By 1810, there had been published sixteen German, fifteen French, two American, one Dutch, one Italian, and no less than twenty English versions, and it was extremely influential both in the history of psychiatry and in English portraiture. See John Graham, Lavater's Essays on physiognomy: a study in the history of ideas (Berne 1979). The present edition was especially important for the artistic development of William Blake (1757--1827) and John Henry Fuseli (1741—1825): the latter superintended the production, writing the ‘Advertisement’ and designing new plates to the copies of the plates of the French edition, and the former engraved one plate (Democritus) after Rubens in vol. I and two vignettes signed 'Blake Sc.' or 'Blake sculp.'. As stated in the 'Errata' concluding the directions to the binder at the end of vol. III, 'Upwards of Eight Hundred' in the title is an error, which was allowed to pass for the sake of the fine impressions of the title vignettes; the work contains 173 engraved plates and facsimiles and 364 engravings in the text. The list of subscribers includes Isaac Lindo, Mr Audinet, engraver, Edmund Malone, the Earl Moira, Alderman Boydell, John Chinnery, Sir Francis Bourgeois and the Lord Bishop of Derry. The engraving on p. 294 of vol. II, pt 2 is of Fuseli’s painting of 'The Italian Count, or Ezzelier, Count of Ravenna musing over the body of Meduna, slain by him for infidelity during his absence in the Holy Land'. The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1780 and purchased by Soane from Henry Tresham in 1803; it now hangs in his Picture Room at 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. ESTC t139902; Lowndes 1321.

Copy Notes Tipped-in at p. 411 in vol. III is a duplicate of the engraving on that page in an unsigned state on finer paper. Volume I is inscribed in pencil on front free-endpaper 31-10-0, with two lines of bookseller's (binder's?) codes. On 14 December 1807 Joseph Booker was paid £25 for 'Lavater. 5 v. Russia'. (Spiers Box, Misc. Booksellers). However, Soane may have possessed a copy as early as 1793, when an entry in his Journal for 23 December of that year records a payment 'in full for books to this day' of £65, of which £38 16s. 0d. was paid by 'Draft' and the remainder apparently by trading in copies of 'Lavatter' and Rousseau for £17 5s. 0d. and 8 19s. 0d. respectively. (Journal 2, p. 324).

Binding C19th polished russia calf, inner and outer blind-tooled borders within thick-thin gilt fillets borders, blind-tooled corner-pieces, gilt-and blind-tooled spines, direct-lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers, gilt edges, black silk bookmarks.

Reference Number 3873


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