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Pater the ClassicistClassical Scholarship, Reception, and Aestheticism$
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Charles Martindale, Stefano Evangelista, and Elizabeth Prettejohn

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723417

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723417.001.0001

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Pater on Sculpture

Pater on Sculpture

(p.219) 12 Pater on Sculpture
Pater the Classicist

Elizabeth Prettejohn

Oxford University Press

Walter Pater’s essays on ancient sculpture (1880–94) are his least studied works, and the few scholars who have considered them have generally underestimated both their erudition and their originality. This chapter will argue that this neglect is closely related to the difficulty of categorizing them: do they belong to art history, literary criticism, or the fledgling discipline of classical archaeology? Superficially, the essays may appear to lack the evidential richness or the methodological rigour of such contemporary monuments to scholarly industry as Adolf Furtwängler’s Meisterwerke der griechischen Plastik (1893). But that is to miss the subtlety with which Pater tests the methodological premises of the new archaeological scholarship, and of the techniques of connoisseurship that it shared with art history. The beauty of Pater’s writing on Greek sculpture constitutes a form of critique. Pater also writes one of the first, and most insightful, accounts of pre-classical Greek sculpture.

Keywords:   ancient sculpture, archaeology, connoisseurship, Winckelmann, the archaic, Canachus

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