Johann Kaspar Lavater

(2831 words)
  • Matthew J. A. Green (University of Nottingham)

Born in the city-state of Zürich on November 15, 1741, Johann Caspar Lavater rose from a background of relative prosperity to a position of international renown in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Though little known today, Lavater had become a household name across Europe when he died on January 2, 1801, as a result of injuries sustained fighting for Swiss nationalism against the Jacobins. An ordained minister in the Zwinglian Reformed Church, Lavater gained notoriety first as a polemicist, then through his widely read, though by no means unanimously endorsed, publications on physiognomy. Though Lavater’s attempts to systematise this practice of reading character in the lineaments of the body, which he alternately …

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J. A. Green, Matthew. "Johann Kaspar Lavater". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2005
[, accessed 02 July 2015.]