Johann Kaspar Lavater

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lavater, Johann Kaspar


Born Nov. 15, 1741, in Zürich; died there Jan. 2, 1801. Swiss writer. Wrote in German.

Lavater studied theology and was a minister in Zürich. He is the author of the collection of verses Swiss Songs (1767) and of many works of a religious nature, including the novel Pontius Pilate, or The Small Bible (1782–85), the drama Abraham and Isaac (1776), and the collections of verse Two Hundred Christian Songs (1780) and Poetry (1781). His work, only superficially related to Sturm und Drang, was full of superstitions and irrational tendencies. In the philosophical work Physiognomical Fragments for Encouraging Knowledge and Love of Man (1775–78), Lavater tried to establish a connection between the spiritual nature of man and the structure and outlines of his skull and face.


Sämtliche Werke, vols. 1–6. Augsburg-Lindau, 1834–38.
Ausgewählte Schriften, vols. 1–8. Zürich, 1841–44.
In Russian translation:
Nastavleniia (nravouchitel’nye) slugam. St. Petersburg, 1799.


Muncker, F. J. K. Lavater. Stuttgart, 1883.
Funck, H. J. W. Goethe und Lavater. Weimar, 1907.
Vömel, A. J. K. Lavater, 1741–1801: Ein Lebensbild, 2nd ed. Neukirchen, 1927.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"Pseudo-Science, Social Fad, Literary Wonder: Johann Caspar Lavater and the Art of Physiognomy."
century is most clearly demonstrated by Johann Caspar Lavater's
In the case of Johann Caspar Lavater, a Swiss theologian, who, taking liberties with comments from a private conversation with Mendelssohn, publicly challenged the famous Jew to refute Christianity or convert.
College, London) explores the influence on British poet and engraver William Blake (1757-1827) of the body theory espoused by Swiss theologian Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801), mainly through the work of Swiss-born painter Henry Fuseli (1741-1825).
Believed to have originated in antiquity, it was promoted in the 18th century by a Swiss pastor, Johann Caspar Lavater. As less expensive editions of his work became more widely available in the 19th century, physiognomy really took off.
I was familiar with Mary Wollstonecraft's life and work through reading political philosophy and the history of feminism, but then, while researching another project, I discovered she had translated Johann Caspar Lavater, an eighteenth-century Swiss proponent of physiognomy.
It could be argued that the recent anthropological turn in Cultural Studies has sparked the renewed interest in Johann Caspar Lavater and his physiognomy that is evident in the publication of two important volumes on the subject within only two years.
Many leading writers of the age, including Friedrich Nicolai, Johann Caspar Lavater, Johann Gottfried Herder and Christoph Martin Wieland, wrote abou t the implications of the crime.
Cicero had written that "it matters greatly to the soul by what sort of body it is placed; for there are many conditions of the body that sharpen the mind, and many that blunt it." (12) And the Swiss physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801) recapitulated this at the close of the eighteenth century, noting that "the beauty and deformity of the countenance is in just and determinate proportion to the moral beauty and deformity of the man.
37; Johann Caspar Lavater, Aphorisms on Man (Philadelphia, 1790), p.
(59) Johann Caspar Lavater and Johann Jakob Hess, Biblische Erzahlungen fur die Jugend.