Johann Heinrich Lips studied at the Akademie in Mannheim under the tutelage of the painter Johann Kaspar Füssli in Zürich and the etcher Johann Rudolf Schellenberg in Winterthur. He illustrated Johann Kaspar Lavater's famous physiognomy book which was famous throughout Europe. With the financial support of Lavater, he was able to tour Germany to study engraving. He later lived in Rome, where he took part in an artist community that included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Lips was a prolific engraver, and created many famous portraits of his contemporaries.