Workshop 2

Reading Faces: Physiognomy and Facial Typing

Friday 25 March 2011, Wellcome Collection

This workshop will look at the impact of physiognomic theories on portraiture in the 18th- and 19th-centuries and vice versa. It will consider the porous borderline between photographic portraiture and scientific and institutional photography of the face in the 19th-century, and the development of concepts of likeness in scientific images. Topics will include the use of scientific images to establish norms in facial type, and the ways in which research into facial type has informed social and cultural ideologies from the 19th-century to the present day. It will also discuss the limits and ethics of the use of these technologies for surveillance, predicting disease, and the extent to which the historical ideas and technologies of of 19th-century facial typing persist in 21st-century art and science.

Carte de Visite, George Lance
Galton Composite Photograph

Left to right: Carte de Visite, George Lance, image ©National Portrait Gallery, London Francis Galton - Composites of Members of a Family, image ©UCL Library Special Collections


Chair: Ludmilla Jordanova (Department of History, Kings College, University of London)

Sibylle Erle (Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln)
Read the text, look at the image, develop your ‘Physiognomical Discernment’: problems of representation in Johann Caspar Lavater’s Essays on Physiognomy

Lara Perry (University of Brighton)
19th-century Cartes de visites and the question of photographic likeness

Tim Valentine (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Face-space: a psychological perspective of similarity and difference between faces

Peter Hamilton (Groupe d’étude de méthodes d’analyse sociologique de la Sorbonne)
Policing the face: photography, portraiture and social order

Natasha Ruiz-Gomez (University of Essex)
Individual and multiple: Rodin and physiognomy

Vicki Bruce (Newcastle University)
Resemblance and identity

Karen Ingham (Swansea Metropolitan University)

A Type of Uncertainty: an interdisciplinary response to the UCL Francis Galton Archive


Abstracts of presentations can be downloaded here.

Final report

Download the final report