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28 Works of Walter Pater

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Prosper Merimee

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FOR one born in eighteen hundred and three much was recently become incredible that had at least warmed the imagination even of the sceptical eighteenth century. Napoleon, sealing the tomb of the Revolution, had foreclosed many a problem, extinguished many a hope, in the sphere of practice. And the mental parallel was drawn by Heine. […]


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By his immense productiveness, by the even perfection of what he produced, its fitness to its own day, its hold on posterity, in the suavity of his life, some would add in the “opportunity” of his early death, Raphael may seem a signal instance of the luckiness, of the good fortune, of genius. Yet, if […]

[1] “CONSECUTIVE upon Apollo in all his solar fervour and effulgence,” says a writer of Teutonic proclivities, “we may discern even among the Greeks themselves, elusively, as would be natural with such a being, almost like a mock sun amid the mists, the northern or ultra-northern sun-god. In hints and fragments the lexicographers and others […]

TITIAN, as we see him in what some have thought his noblest work, the large altar-piece, dated 1522, his forty-fifth year, of SS. Nazaro e Celso, at Brescia, is certainly a religious–a great, religious painter. The famous Gabriel of the Annunciation, aflight, in all the effortless energy of an angel indeed, and Sebastian, adapted, it […]

THE greatest and purest of Gothic churches, Notre-Dame d’Amiens, illustrates, by its fine qualities, a characteristic secular movement of the beginning of the thirteenth century. Philosophic writers of French history have explained how, in that and in the two preceding centuries, a great number of the more important towns in eastern and northern France rose […]


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As you discern the long unbroken line of its roof, low-pitched for France, above the cottages and willow-shaded streams of the place, you might think the abbey church of Pontigny, the largest Cistercian church now remaining, only a great farm-building. On a nearer view there is something unpretending, something pleasantly English, in the plain grey […]


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ABOUT the middle of the seventeenth century, two opposite views of a question, upon which neither Scripture, nor Council, nor Pope, had spoken with authority–the question as to the amount of freedom left to man by the overpowering work of divine grace upon him–had seemed likely for a moment to divide the Roman Church into […]

– Winckelmann

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ET EGO IN ARCADIA FUI GOETHE’S fragments of art-criticism contain a few pages of strange pregnancy on the character of Winckelmann. He speaks of the teacher who had made his career possible, but whom he had never seen, as of an abstract type of culture, consummate, tranquil, withdrawn already into the region of ideals, yet […]

Conclusion [1] Legei pou Herakleitos hoti panta chorei kai ouden menei.[2] TO regard all things and principles of things as inconstant modes or fashions has more and more become the tendency of modern thought. Let us begin with that which is without–our physical life. Fix upon it in one of its more exquisite intervals, the […]

IN Leonardo’s treatise on painting only one contemporary is mentioned by name–Sandro Botticelli. This pre-eminence may be due to chance only, but to some will rather appear a result of deliberate judgment; for people have begun to find out the charm of Botticelli’s work, and his name, little known in the last century, is quietly […]

THE Italian sculptors of the earlier half of the fifteenth century are more than mere forerunners of the great masters of its close, and often reach perfection, within the narrow limits which they chose to impose on their work. Their sculpture shares with the paintings of Botticelli and the churches of Brunelleschi that profound expressiveness, […]

CRITICS of Michelangelo have sometimes spoken as if the only characteristic of his genius were a wonderful strength, verging, as in the things of the imagination great strength always does, on what is singular or strange. A certain strangeness, something of the blossoming of the aloe, is indeed an element in all true works of […]

HOMO MINISTER ET INTERPRES NATURAE IN Vasari’s life of Leonardo da Vinci as we now read it there are some variations from the first edition. There, the painter who has fixed the outward type of Christ for succeeding centuries was a bold speculator, holding lightly by other men’s beliefs, setting philosophy above Christianity. Words of […]

IT is the mistake of much popular criticism to regard poetry, music, and painting–all the various products of art–as but translations into different languages of one and the same fixed quantity of imaginative thought, supplemented by certain technical qualities of colour, in painting; of sound, in music; of rhythmical words, in poetry. In this way, […]

IN the middle of the sixteenth century, when the spirit of the Renaissance was everywhere, and people had begun to look back with distaste on the works of the middle age, the old Gothic manner had still one chance more, in borrowing something from the rival which was about to supplant it. In this way […]

[vii] Many attempts have been made by writers on art and poetry to define beauty in the abstract, to express it in the most general terms, to find some universal formula for it. The value of these attempts has most often been in the suggestive and penetrating things said by the way. Such discussions help […]

Yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove. THE history of the Renaissance ends in France, and carries us away from Italy to the beautiful cities of the country of the Loire. But it was in France also, in a very important sense, that the Renaissance had begun. French writers, who are fond […]

NO account of the Renaissance can be complete without some notice of the attempt made by certain Italian scholars of the fifteenth century to reconcile Christianity with the religion of ancient Greece. To reconcile forms of sentiment which at first sight seem incompatible, to adjust the various products of the human mind to one another […]

CENTURIES of zealous archaeology notwithstanding, many phases of the so varied Greek genius are recorded for the modern student in a kind of shorthand only, or not at all. Even for Pausanias, visiting Greece before its direct part in affairs was quite played out, much had perished or grown dim–of its art, of the truth […]

THE BEGINNINGS OF GREEK SCULPTURE I: THE HEROIC AGE OF GREEK ART THE extant remains of Greek sculpture, though but a fragment of what the Greek sculptors produced, are, both in number and in excellence, in their fitness, therefore, to represent the whole of which they were a part, quite out of proportion to what […]

I HAVE dwelt the more emphatically upon the purely sensuous aspects of early Greek art, on the beauty and charm of its mere material and workmanship, the grace of hand in it, its chryselephantine character, because the direction of all the more general criticism since Lessing has been, somewhat one-sidedly, towards the ideal or abstract […]

IT is pleasant when, looking at medieval sculpture, we are reminded of that of Greece; pleasant likewise, conversely, in the study of Greek work to be put on thoughts of the Middle Age. To the refined intelligence, it would seem, there is something attractive in complex expression as such. The Marbles of Aegina, then, may […]

WRITERS on mythology speak habitually of the religion of the Greeks. In thus speaking, they are really using a misleading expression, and should speak rather of religions; each race and class of Greeks–the Dorians, the people of the coast, the fishers–having had a religion of its own, conceived of the objects that came nearest to […]

So far, I have endeavoured to present, with something of the concrete character of a picture, Dionysus, the old Greek god, as we may discern him through a multitude of stray hints in art and poetry and religious custom, through modern speculation on the tendencies of early thought, through traits and touches in our own […]

I No chapter in the history of human imagination is more curious than the myth of Demeter, and Kore or Persephone. Alien in some respects from the genuine traditions of Greek mythology, a relic of the earlier inhabitants of Greece, and having but a subordinate place in the religion of Homer, it yet asserted its […]

[1] As Florian Deleal walked, one hot afternoon, he overtook by the wayside a poor aged man, and, as he seemed weary with the road, helped him on with the burden which he carried, a certain distance. And as the man told his story, it chanced that he named the place, a little place in […]

Emerald Uthwart

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[1] WE smile at epitaphs–at those recent enough to be read easily; smile, for the most part, at what for the most part is an unreal and often vulgar branch of literature; yet a wide one, with its flowers here or there, such as make us regret now and again not to have gathered more […]


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THERE are some unworldly types of character which the world is able to estimate. It recognises certain moral types, or categories, and regards whatever falls within them as having a right to exist. The saint, the artist, even the speculative thinker, out of the world’s order as they are, yet work, so far as they […]