Physiognomy is a method of recognizing the mental characteristics of a human while relying on his appearance, first of all the features of his face (the color of the eyes, the shape of the nose, the height of the forehead and the like). It was already known in the antiquity (Aristotle); it enjoyed great popularity in the late 18th century (J.K. Lavater). This article comprises three parts. The first contains the review of Aristotle’s physiognomy studies. The second reports the course of the discussion on physiognomy in the second half of the 18th century; it earned critical comments from I. Kant who called it “a cheap merchandise,“ and also from G. Hegel and G. Lichtenberg. The third part reviews the selected texts on Lavater and physiognomy published in the early 19th century Russian magazines; it also describes the way the face used to be presented in sentimental stories (a beautiful face being tantamount to a good heart) and presents direct notes on Lavater in The letters of a Russian traveler by N. Karamzin and in The journey from Petersburg to Moscow by A. Radishchev.