Gallery of prints for sale

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Johann Elias Haid’s mezzotint, “Portrait of Johann Caspar Lavater”, 1777, after Georg Friedrich Schmoll

Johann Elias Haid (1739–1809)

“Portrait of Johann Caspar Lavater”, 1777, after Georg Friedrich Schmoll (c1745–1785).

Note that this profile view of JC Lavater—a Swiss poet, writer, philosopher, physiognomist and theologian (1741–1801) may have added significance for some viewers. From my reading of the article on Lavater offered by Wikipedia (see, Lavater is famous for his treatise, “Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe” (Physiognomic fragments to promote knowledge of human nature and love of mankind), published at the time of this portrait. This publication introduced the idea that an examination of a person’s profile could determine their character through “lines of countenance.” Although Lavater’s theories were influential at the time—viz. Franz Xaver Messerschmidt's (1736–1783) sculpted “character heads”—the idea of there being meaningful science behind Lavater’s ideas have since faded.

Mezzotint and etching on laid paper backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 28.1 x 19.1 cm; (plate) 22.1 x 13.9 cm; (image borderline) 20.9 x 13.2 cm.

Lettered in plate within the image borderline: (on plinth) “IOHANN CASPAR/ LAVATER,/ gebohren zu Zurich,/ den 15 Novemb. 1741.” (IOHANN CASPAR/ LAVATER,/ born in Zurich,/ 15 November. 1741.)

Lettered in plate below the image borderline: (left) “Schmoll, del:”; (right) “J.E. Haid Sculp: Aug. Vind. 1777.”

LeBlanc 41 (Charles Le Blanc 1854, “Manuel de l'amateur d'estampes, contenant un dictionnaire des graveurs de toutes les nations: ouvrage destiné à faire suite au Manuel du libraire par J.Ch. Brunet”, vol. 2, p. 332, cat. no. 41); HAB A 12117 (Peter Mortzfeld 1986-2008, “Katalog der graphischen Porträts in der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel 1500-1850. Reihe A: Die Porträtsammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel”, Munich, KG Saur, cat. no. A12117); Drugulin 11479.

See also the description of this print offered by the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: a strong and well-printed impression (possibly with a daub of ink on the figure’s coat?) and laid onto a sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper that provides larger margins. The sheet is in an excellent condition for its considerable age with no tears, holes, folds, abrasions or significant stains.

I am selling this mezzotint portrait of the man who popularised cut-out silhouette portraits believing that the profile of a person could reveal their character, for AU$277 in total (currently US$198.28/EUR173.56/GBP146.27 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in purchasing this amazing portrait—note the incremental development of the face through the different states where the sitter’s features, especially the nose, become increasingly pronounced—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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