Walter Pater – Biography of Walter Pater

Born August 4, 1839 in Shadwell, London, Walter Horatio Pater was an English critic, essayist, and humanist whose defense of “art for art’s sake” became a cardinal doctrine of the movement known as aestheticism.

Pater he was educated at King’s School in Canterbury, and at Queen’s College, Oxford, where he studied Greek philosophy with Benjamin Jowett. Then he settled in Oxford and had private students. In 1864 he was chosen for a scholarship at Brasenose College. The initial intention of Pater Entering the church at this time gave way to a great interest in classical studies.

Pater then he began writing for reviews, and his essays on Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Pico della Mirandola, Michelangelo, and others were collected in 1873 as Studies in the History of the Renaissance (later called simply The Renaissance). His delicate and fastidious style and sensitive appreciation of Renaissance art in these essays made his reputation as a scholar and esthete, and he became the center of a small group of admirers at Oxford. In the final essay of The RenaissancePater affirmed that art exists only for its beauty and does not recognize moral standards or utilitarian functions in its reason for being. These views led to Pater to an association with Algernon Charles Swinburne and the Pre-Raphaelites.
Marius the Epicurean (1885) is his most important work. It is a philosophical romance in which the ideal of Pater of an aesthetic and religious life is scrupulously and elaborately exposed. The setting is Rome in the time of Marcus Aurelius; but this is a disguise for the characteristic spiritual development of its main character in the late 19th century. Imaginary Portraits (1887) are shorter pieces of philosophical fiction in the same way. Appreciations (1889) is a return to the critical essay. In 1893 they arrived Plato and Platonism, giving an extremely literary vision of Plato and neglecting the logical and dialectical side of his philosophy. Greek studies (1895), Miscellaneous studies (1895) and The Guardian Essays (privately printed, 1896; 1901) were published posthumously. His unfinished romance was also published posthumously, Gaston de Latour (1896).

The main influence on the mind of Pater were his classical studies, colored by a highly individual view of Christian devotion and largely pursued as a source of extremely refined artistic sensations. In his later critical writings, he continued to focus on the innate qualities of works of art, in contrast to the prevailing tendency to evaluate them based on their moral and educational value.

The early influence of Pater it was confined to a small circle at Oxford, but it came to have a widespread effect on the next literary generation. Oscar Wilde, George Moore, and the aesthetes of the 1890s were among his followers and show obvious and continuous traces of both their style and ideas.