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Imaginary Portraits   By: (1839-1894)

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E text Editor: Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D. Electronic Version 1.0 / Date 10 12 01


Reliability: Although I have done my best to ensure that the text you read is error free in comparison with an exact reprint of the standard edition Macmillan's 1910 Library Edition please exercise scholarly caution in using it. It is not intended as a substitute for the printed original but rather as a searchable supplement. My e texts may prove convenient substitutes for hard to get works in a course where both instructor and students accept the possibility of some imperfections in the text, but if you are writing a scholarly article, dissertation, or book, you should use the standard hard copy editions of any works you cite.

Pagination and Paragraphing: To avoid an unwieldy electronic copy, I have transferred original pagination to brackets. A bracketed numeral such as [22] indicates that the material immediately following the number marks the beginning of the relevant page. I have preserved paragraph structure except for first line indentation.

Hyphenation: I have not preserved original hyphenation since an e text does not require line end or page end hyphenation.

Greek typeface: For this full text edition, I have transliterated Pater's Greek quotations. If there is a need for the original Greek, it can be viewed at my site,, a Victorianist archive that contains the complete works of Walter Pater and many other nineteenth century texts, mostly in first editions.


I. A Prince of Court Painters: 3 44

II. Denys L'Auxerrois: 45 77

III. Sebastian Van Storck: 79 115

IV. Duke Carl of Rosenmold: 117 153




Valenciennes, September 1701.

[5] They have been renovating my father's large workroom. That delightful, tumble down old place has lost its moss grown tiles and the green weather stains we have known all our lives on the high whitewashed wall, opposite which we sit, in the little sculptor's yard, for the coolness, in summertime. Among old Watteau's work people came his son, "the genius," my father's godson and namesake, a dark haired youth, whose large, unquiet eyes seemed perpetually wandering to the various drawings which lie exposed here. My father will have it that he is a genius indeed, and a painter born. We have had our September Fair in the Grande Place, a wonderful stir of sound and colour in the wide, open space beneath our windows. And just where the crowd was busiest young Antony was found, hoisted into one of those empty niches of the old Hôtel de Ville, sketching the scene to the life, but with a [6] kind of grace a marvellous tact of omission, as my father pointed out to us, in dealing with the vulgar reality seen from one's own window which has made trite old Harlequin, Clown, and Columbine, seem like people in some fairyland; or like infinitely clever tragic actors, who, for the humour of the thing, have put on motley for once, and are able to throw a world of serious innuendo into their burlesque looks, with a sort of comedy which shall be but tragedy seen from the other side. He brought his sketch to our house to day, and I was present when my father questioned him and commended his work. But the lad seemed not greatly pleased, and left untasted the glass of old Malaga which was offered to him. His father will hear nothing of educating him as a painter. Yet he is not ill to do, and has lately built himself a new stone house, big and grey and cold. Their old plastered house with the black timbers, in the Rue des Cardinaux, was prettier; dating from the time of the Spaniards, and one of the oldest in Valenciennes.

October 1701.

Chiefly through the solicitations of my father, old Watteau has consented to place Antony with a teacher of painting here. I meet him betimes on the way to his lessons, as I return from Mass; for he still works with the masons, [7] but making the most of late and early hours, of every moment of liberty... Continue reading book >>

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