2 LAVATER, J.P.. Over de Physiognomie / Virtual Book Fair 106


Description: LAVATER, Johann Kaspar.
Over de Physiognomie.

Amsterdam, Johannes Allart, 1781-1784. 4 vols. 8vo. In the original boards covered with red sprinkled paper as published. With allegorical vignette on the titles of vols. 1-3 and another vignette on the title of vol. 4, a portrait of Lavater in vol. 1, 41 full-page engraved portraits and silhouettes and 380 engraved and etched portraits, sihouettes, facial details of humans and animals in the text. (Vol. 1: 12 full-page engravings and 80 plates in text; vol. 2: 13, 89; vol. 3: 13, 77; vol. 4: 3, 134). XX, 16, 357, (2); VIII, 342, (1); VI, 347, (1); (6), 435, (20) pp.

Original edition (except for vol. 1, the only vol. that was re-published in 1784 as 'second edition') of the Dutch translation by Johan W. van Haar of the famous work on physiognomy by the Swiss theologian and mystic Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801). The vols. 2-4 are dated 1781-1783; the first volume of the first edition was printed in 1780. The original German edition had appeared also in 4 vols. under the title Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe, Leipzig, 1775-1778.
Lavater advocated the phenomenon of physiognomy, by which one could judge character from facial characteristics. Lavater claimed that qualities, characteristics and traits of a personality could be determined from portraits or silhouettes. Full lips, for instance, might mean sensuality; heavy brows grown together, criminality; while a sloping forehead might show that one was less than quick-witted.
The work had an enormous impact hroughout Europe and as Lavater's ideas spread, people naturally wanted to have more professional and accurate depictions of other people and themselves, making the art of the silhouette portrait very popular.
The plates are engraved or etched by several artists, such as Heidegger at Zürich, I. Hegi and R. Brichet. Here, many plates in the text are newly engraved by the Dutch artists Schellenberg and Joh. H. Lips (one is dated 1777). As examples there are portraits - some are really magnificently engraved or etched - of 'famous men' such as Erasmus, Hugo Grotius, Rembrandt, Marcus Boxhoorn, Adam van Noort, Homer, Socrates and Diogenes. Among the most interesting plates are portraits of animals with their 'faces' often very similar to human faces, two plates of a special chair for making silhouettes, and a magic lantern. The work is dedicated to Margriet, Baronesse Van Essen, geb. Van Haeften.

Good uncut copy with many protecting lvs. still present.- (Some leaves and plates loose).
Thieme-Becker 22, p.473;
  • Number: 1060332
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