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OrganisationUniversity of Zurich




18 Mar 2019


18 Sep 2019



Project Title

Digital analysis of a collection project with European impact – Johann Caspar Lavater: P...

H2020 Call Topic


The worldwide digital processing of Johann Caspar Lavaters physiognomic cabinet is going to demonstrate for the first time how a research project can be interconnectedly digitally implemented beyond disciplines an national borders. With that, questions arise which shaped the era of Enlightenment and its reception fundamentally and could neither be solved on a national basis on the 18th century nor could thus be answerded today. The research project, which merges a now widespread collection digitally and makes it accessible in its whole dimensions, shall innovative exceed the State of the Art. Thereby the question of an intended picture-language should be pursued principally and the to this point isolated researched fields of pictorial and textual languages shall be shown as an interlinked unity. It is necessary to determine whether the up to this point mostly isolated focused research on art-historic image display and text materials does not restrict the perception of the 18th century which fundamentally transcended todays disciplinary borders.
The project aims at the exemplary sounding out of the potential of correlation of textual and visual sources in the communicative perception oft the 18th century with the available stock of Johann Caspar Lavaters Physiognomic Cabinet. Based on the insights of the historical critical edition of Johann Caspar Lavaters selected correspondence (JCLB, since 2017; www.lavater.com), which developer in collaboration with Swiss and European partners a digital online-edition and its visualization by innovative proceedings on different levels, the project Johann Caspar Lavater: Physiognomic Cabinet Digital (PCD) will show the whole range of Lavaters œuvre, which by far transcendences interdisciplinary borders. The 18th century expanded with its vastly dense interconnection far beyond the nation and cultural borders of todays European region. Literatur, philosophy, theology, dramatic arts, anthropology, educational science and scientific thinking were only partly constrained bey national borders. An œuvre like the one of Johann Caspar Lavater stands with its barely surpassable spread of issues over the disciplinary boundaries oft art-history in Europe in the second half of the 18th century. Europe was culturally and knowledge-historically from Rome to London, from Hannover to St. Petersburg in a constant state of flux. Thanks to the interconnection by the culture of correspondence, an œuvre of such extent is primarily located in Lavaters hometown Zurich (Central Library) and in Vienna (Picture Library of the Austrian National Library), but also scattered throughout various European archives, libraries and private collections. A nationally confined research could not satisfy the aspiration of a reconstruction as complete as possible.

Expertise sought/offered

We wish to participate with our project idea as a partner in a consortium under DT-TRANSFORMATIONS-12-2018-2020: Curation of digital assets and advanced digitzation.

Tasks offered/requested

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