Essays on Physiognomy,
London: John Murray, 1789. Item #05202
"The Jealous are Possessed by a Mad Devil and a Dull Spirit at the Same Time" (John Caspar Lavater)
LAVATER, John Caspar. Essays on Physiognomy, Designed to Promote the Knowledge and the Love of Mankind… 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.… London: John Murray, 1789-1792 -1798.
A Spectacular Example of the First Edition in English.
Three folio volumes bound in five (12 7/8 x 10 1/4 inches; 327 x 260 mm.). Volume 1. [ii, half-title, verso blank], [ii, vignette title-page, verso blank], [ii, translator's preface], [vi, advertisement], [iv, contents], [x, list of subscribers], [ii, dedication], [vi, author's preface], [ii, French translators' preface], -280; [iii]-xii]; [1-3], 4--238; [1, half title vol II. part II, verso blank], -444; [iii-iv, title-page, verso blank], [v]-xii, contents, -252; [2, half title vol III. part III], 253-437, [1, blank], -xi index, [1, blank] pp. Complete with 174 engraved plates after Rubens, Fuseli, Bartlozzi and Blake.
Bound ca. 1830 in full dark green diced calf, covers with double ruled gilt line and decorative corner-pieces in gilt. Spines with five raised bands, elaborately tooled in gilt, two brown morocco labels lettered in gilt. Gilt ruled board edges and turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. With the engraved armorial bookplate of Viscount Birkenhead on front paste-down of each volume.
Some light foxing and offsetting throughout but still an incredible set of this landmark work.
John Caspar Lavater (1741-1801) “was the last and most influential of the descriptive physiognomists, a class of pseudo-scientists who attempted to ascertain character on the basis of physical features… Von der Physiognomik , an unillustrated two-volume book, was Lavater’s first work on the subject; this was later expanded, with the help of Goethe, into the four-volume Physiognomische Fragmente (1775-1778), and further perfected in a French translation, Essais sur la Physiognomie… supervised by Lavater himself. Lavater’s physiognomy differed from those of his predecessors in that he paid special attention to the structure of the head, particularly the forehead - a form of psychological indexing that exerted some influence on the development of phrenology and brain localization theories in the early nineteenth century. Lavater’s work also influenced artists of the period, both in the overall creation of portraits, and in the use of his physiognomical theories to construct individual faces in historical paintings” (Norman Library).
Lavater’s work on physiognomy was extremely popular, and, by 1810, sixteen German, twenty English, fifteen French, two American, two Russian, one Dutch, and one Italian version had appeared. Among the portraits included are those of Julius Caesar, Descartes, Erasmus, Homer, Locke, Milton, Newton, Raphael, Salome, Satan, Socrates, Christopher Wren, Vesalius, Voltaire, George Washington and several of himself.
A full listing of the plates is available upon request.
Brunet III, 887; Garrison and Morton, 154; Graesse IV, 126; Lowndes, 1321; Norman Library; Osler, 3178.