Windows of the Soul

Physiognomy in European Culture c.1500-1800
Porter, Martin
Date published: 
June 2005

In early modern Europe there was a small group of books on the art of physiognomy which claimed to provide self-knowledge through an interpretation of external features. The authors of these books explained how the eyes, the face, and all of nature's natural bodies became windows of the soul. Dr Porter uses remnants of the highly illustrated and graffitied texts on physiognomy to interpret the way that these books were read and viewed, and trace the changes that took place between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of Romanticism.