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The Renaissance: studies in art and poetry   By: (1839-1894)

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In "The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry," Walter Pater explores the extraordinary cultural and artistic richness of the Renaissance period. Published in 1873, this thought-provoking collection of essays delves into the significance of art, literature, and music during a transformative era in human history.

Pater's work presents a deeply philosophical analysis, where he challenges traditional theories surrounding art appreciation and beauty. Emphasizing the subjective experience of a work of art, the author dismisses rigid academic standards and instead focuses on capturing the essence of aesthetic pleasure. His approach seeks to encourage readers to view art as a sensual experience, exploring the emotional responses that masterpieces can evoke.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Pater's writing is his ability to evoke vivid imagery. Through his eloquent prose, the author brings to life the vibrant landscapes, the harmonious melodies, and the intricate details of Renaissance art. Consequently, Pater's descriptions transport readers to a mesmerizing world of color, sound, and movement.

Moreover, Pater's selection of artists and poets is comprehensive, covering a wide range of influential figures from the Renaissance period. From Botticelli's ethereal paintings to Michelangelo's grand sculptures, Pater dissects each artist's style, techniques, and underlying themes, shedding light on their artistic motivations and contributions. Alongside the visual arts, Pater also explores the poetic works of figures such as Dante and Shakespeare, illustrating their profound impact on the cultural landscape of the time.

While Pater's explorations are intellectually rich, they can also be quite esoteric and dense at times. The author's dense prose style and erudite references may require readers to approach the work with patience and an open mind. However, for those willing to invest time in understanding and unraveling Pater's thoughts, the rewards are plentiful.

Ultimately, "The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry" is a seminal work that challenges conventional approaches to art and aesthetics. Pater's profound insights into the Renaissance period, combined with his evocative writing, provide readers with a deeper understanding not only of the artistic movements but also of the human experience. As a seminal text in the field of art history and criticism, this book continues to inspire and stimulate discourse regarding the significance of the Renaissance era and its influence on the broader artistic canon.

First Page:

Scanned and proofed by Alfred J. Drake (


London: 1910. (The Library Edition.)


Notes: The 1910 Library Edition employs footnotes, a style inconvenient in an electronic edition. I have therefore placed an asterisk immediately after each of Pater's footnotes and a sign after my own notes, and have listed each chapter's notes at that chapter's end.

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.



Preface: vii xv

Two Early French Stories: 1 29

Pico della Mirandola: 30 49

Sandro Botticelli: 50 62

Luca della Robbia: 63 72

The Poetry of Michelangelo: 73 97

Leonardo da Vinci: 98 129

The School of Giorgione: 130 154

Joachim du Bellay: 155 176

Winckelmann: 177 232

Conclusion: 233 end


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