Analyzing Walter Horatio Pater´S Aesthetic Criticism

898 words - 4 pages

Walter Horatio Pater gives art critic’s some very pertinent advice about what constitutes true beauty in aestheticism in the overall schema of good art criticism. He describes beauty as being something that has no formula, that it is something we find through our own experiences, impressions, and senses; through this we can, according to Pater, “see the object as in itself it really is.” Thus, with this idea in mind, art critics should find the source of what sparked their interest in the first place, that being the impression of beauty and pleasure. Pater describes to us that the aesthetic critic must distinguish, analyze, and separate any confounding factors that led to the source of his impression and the conditions which produced it. He creates a respectable analogy for aesthetic criticism as being something similar to how a chemist makes notes to describe some natural element. This is a perfect analogy as the chemist must analyze the natural elements to others in a way that is both eminent and crucial to their understanding of whatever it is that they are seeing. Thus, his purpose is the same rationale as the aesthetic critic’s is to be, that of analyzing the objects and reducing it down to its bare element; therefore distilling its true purpose of being there. Lastly, Pater argues that it is exceedingly important for an art critic to not have any preset definition of what is abstract beauty; but rather to have a certain kind of attribute in their personality, that being of one who is stimulated and in a state of child like ecstasy in seeing any genuine work of art.

Pater chose the Renaissance to make his points about aesthetic criticism for many reasons. He was both influenced by the sheer intellect and imagination of the era and the various forceful personalities that were spawned from this era; however, he was most influenced by the general, overall spirit and character of the Renaissance. He was particularly partial to the interconnectedness of the various visionaries of the time; rather than being isolated from each other like most artists, they were in sync with each other in a way that was both harmonious and productive in creating such stunning pieces of art work during that era.
Pater was acutely in awe of the work by Leonardo Da Vinci; which was the Mona Lisa, or as referenced by Pater, La Gioconda. He describes to us the focal appeal of this extremely popular piece of art in art history. Firstly, he mentions how Da Vinci has created an art work that is very universal in appeal; it has...

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