Pater, Walter Horatio
Walter Horatio Pater (pā´tər), 1839–94, English essayist and critic. In 1864 he was elected a fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, and he subsequently led an austere and uneventful life. An exemplar of Victorian aestheticism and a proponent of the doctrine of
"art for art's sake,"
Pater believed that the ideal life consisted of cultivating an appreciation for the beautiful and the profound. His first work, Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873), established his reputation. Then followed his masterpiece, Marius the Epicurean (1885), a study of the intellectual and spiritual development of a young Roman in the time of Marcus Aurelius. His other works include Imaginary Portraits (1887); Appreciations (1889); Plato and Platonism (1893); The Child in the House (1894); and two posthumous publications, Greek Studies (1895) and Gaston de Latour (1896). His style is noted for its precision, subtlety, and refinement.
See biography by T. Wright (2 vol., 1907; repr. 1969); critical biography by D. Donoghue (1995); studies by R. Crinkley (1970), F. C. McGrath (1986), and C. Williams (1990).