Scope and Contents
Of the dated items, almost all fall in the 1790s, the majority in the second half of that decade. The collection is organized into three series: Portraits, Other Artwork, and Other Papers. Portraits is organized into Potraits of Johann Caspar Lavater and Portraits of Others. Other Artwork is organized into eight subseries: Jacques Callot, Daneil Chodowiecki, Johann Heinrich Lips, Conrad Meyer, Pfenninger, del., George Friedrich Schmol, Various Artists, and Unidentified.
The artists most heavily represented among the signed engravings in the collection are Daniel Chodowiecki (1726-1801) and Johann Heinrich Lips (1758-1817), both major contributors to the work for which Lavater is best remembered, Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung des Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe. The collection includes a small portrait of Anna Barbara Schulthess (1745-1818), a friend of Goethe who preserved the manuscript of Wilhelm Meisters theatralische Sendung (the first version of Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre), not rediscovered and published until 1911 (folder 10). Other notable items include a silhouette of Katharina von Stolberg (1751-1832), sister of the poets Christian and Friedrich Leopold von Stolberg, and a self-portrait by the painter Johann Caspar Schinz (1797-1832), a pupil of Heinrich Lips (folders 11 and 6).
The collection was previously housed in a large box labeled "Lavater" that had been among the uncataloged holdings of the William A. Speck Collection of Goetheana for several decades. Possibly the collection was not cataloged by earlier librarians because of the fragmentary nature of its contents. The provenance of the collection is uncertain, although it may have been part of the material, called simply "prints," purchased in 1926 from descendants of Lavater, Waldemar C. Hirschfeld (Yale certificate in architecture, 1903) and his brother Robert Lavater Hirschfeld, both then of Meriden, Connecticut. Later the Hirschfelds donated to the Speck Collection oil portraits of Lavater by Ilg and of Gottlieb Wilhelm Rabener (1714-71) by Anton Graff. The exact relationship between Lavater and the Hirschfelds has not at this writing been determined. Their father was Henry Hirschfeld, one of four sons of a widow Hirschfeld who immigrated to the United States from Emmershausen around 1850. Heinrich Fussli's drawing of Mrs. Lavater's hands, now at the Beinecke Library, came from the Hirschfeld family as well; in 1926 it was described as still being in the possession of an unnamed aunt of Waldemar and Robert Hirschfeld.
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
1.97 Linear Feet ((3 boxes) + 1 broadside folder)
Language of Materials
JOHANN CASPAR LAVATER (1741-1801)
Lavater's numerous published works include poems, prose works devoted to his emotional, pietistic brand of Christianity, and the famous Physiognomische Fragmente, published in four volumes between 1775 and 1778 and illustrated with many engravings. Lavater's friendship with Goethe began by letter in 1772. They first met in 1774, and, as is well known, Goethe made minor contributions to the Physiognomische Fragmente. The friendship cooled during the early 1780s as Goethe became alienated by Lavater's growing religious fanaticism.
- Guide to the Lavater Collection
- by Beinecke staff
- November 2000
- Description rules
- Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
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