Frogs, Physiognomy and Aesthetics

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Title Frogs, Physiognomy and Aesthetics
Author Woodrow, Ross Daniel
Publication Title The 2009 International Academic and Community Conference on Animals and Society: Minding Animals
Editor Rod Bennnison and Jill Bough
Year Published 2009
Place of publication Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Publisher University of Newcastle
Abstract Frogs, Physiognomy and Aesthetics Ross Woodrow Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia Scholars investigating the relationship between human and nonhuman animals have recently taken a renewed interest in one of the most compellingly inventive images published in the early nineteenth century (Bindman 2002, pp. 209 – 11). This was Johann Caspar Lavater's (1741 – 1801) Stufenfolge Vom Frosch zum Dichter-Apoll, a series of drawings showing the successive stages of a morphological transformation of a frog head into the idealized profile of (the poet) Apollo (Schögl 1999). . In this paper I will highlight the profound contemporary impact and the philosophical, iconographic and metaphorical origins of these line engravings, that first appeared in the fourth volume of the 1803 French edition of Lavater's Physiognomische Fragmente and the final volume of the English (Holcroft) edition Essays on Physiognomy of 1804. Almost all of the more than 150 subsequent nineteenth-century European editions of Lavater's Physiognomy contain the frog-to-Apollo engravings (Woodrow 2005, p. 90 n 21). My aim is to demonstrate that, because Lavater's idiosyncratic invention of a link between idealized humans and the 'most ignoble and bestial' of creatures was based on aesthetic judgment and the mytho-moral foundations of his physiognomic science, his approach has particular resonance and relevance in understanding the contemporary status of the frog. The frog has transcended its place in animated fable and fairy tale to become the locus of concern for the degradation of the natural world, creating an imperceptible, imaginary linkage between human and frog. References Bindman, D. 2002, Ape to Apollo, Reaktion, London. Schögl, U. 1999, 'Vom Frosch zum Dichter-Apoll: morphologische entwicklungsreihen bei Lavater' in G Mraz & U Schögl (eds), Das Kunstkabinett des Johann Caspar Lavater, Vienna, pp 164 – 171. Woodrow, R. 2005 'Lavater and the Drawing Manual' in M Percival & g Tytler (eds), Physiognomy in Profile: Lavater's impact on European Culture, University of Delaware Press, Newark, pp. 71 – 93.
Peer Reviewed No
Published Yes
Conference name The 2009 International Academic and Community Conference on Animals and Society: Minding Animals
Location Civic Precinct, Newcastle, NSW, Aust.
Date From 2009-07-12
Date To 2009-07-18
Date Accessioned 2010-03-25
Language en_AU
Faculty Queensland College of Art
Subject Fine Arts (incl Sculpture and Painting)
Publication Type Conference Publications (Extract Paper)
Publication Type Code e3

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