Synopses & Reviews
Through his highly idiosyncratic readings of some of the finest paintings, sculptures, and poems of the French and Italian Renaissance, Walter Pater in Studies in the History of the Renaissance
redefined the practice of criticism as an impressionistic, almost erotic exploration of the critic's aesthetic responses. Pater's infamous "Conclusion," which forever linked him with the decadent movement, scandalized many with its insistence on making pleasure the sole motive of life, even as it charmed fellow aesthetes such as Oscar Wilde. This edition of Studies
reproduces the text of the first edition of 1873. Matthew Beaumont's Introduction describes the cultural context that gave rise to the book, the reasons for its notoriety, Pater's philosophical outlook, and the arguments in his book. It explores Pater's work as an attempt to preserve the unique aesthetic of a work of art in the face of encroaching mass culture. The book also includes the later chapter on Giorgione as an Appendix, comprehensive notes that identify the many literary and artistic references, and a useful glossary of names.
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Oscar Wilde called this collection of essays the "holy writ of beauty." Published to great acclaim in 1837, it examines the work of Renaissance artists such as Winckelmann and the then neglected Botticelli, and includes a celebrated discussion of the Mona Lisa in a study of Da Vinci. The book strongly influenced art students and aesthetes of the day and is still valuable for the insights it offers and the beauty of the writing.
About the Author
is Senior Lecturer in English at the University College London.