In 1872 he combined these with new essays, to produce Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873).
To this work he attached the "Conclusion" from the Morris essay, which proved highly controversial in its new context and was withdrawn in the 1877 edition, only to be reinstated in 1888.
Then, in 1867, Pater asked: how can we determine the morality of a style or the value of an aesthetic object unless we first become aware of our own impressions and the sensations they evoke in us?
“In aesthetic criticism the first step towards seeing one's object as it really is, is to know one's own impression as it really is, to discriminate it, to realise it distinctly.” For Pater, the critic is someone who educates his sensibilities by bathing them in the subtleties of beauty, and then, by analyzing his own reactions, transforms himself into a sentient instrument for the appreciation of art.
The first, on Leonardo da Vinci (1869), included his famous invocation of the Mona Lisa: "She is as old as the rocks upon which she sits," the influence of which W. Yeats carried into the twentieth century when he printed this passage as the first poem in his Oxford Book of English Verse (1939).
Studies of Botticelli, Pico della Mirandola, and Michelangelo followed. PATER, WALTER (1839–1894), English writer, critic, and aesthete.In June 1858 Walter Horatio Pater matriculated at Queen's College, University of Oxford, where he read classics.In 1893 Pater published his last book, Plato and Platonism, derived from lectures on ancient Greek philosophy, art, and archaeology. Modern scholars recognize Pater for having introduced a distinctively gay sensibility into English letters and for lending quiet inspiration to a generation of similarly inclined male writers, including J. Symonds, Edward Carpenter, Havelock Ellis, and Oscar Wilde. Critics are still divided as to whether Pater's ethereally refined prose style expresses the final bloom of late Romanticism or announces a nascent modernism. Pater was shocked at the reaction his book inspired: 'I wish they would not call me a hedonist, it gives such a wrong impression to those who do not know Gree'To burn always with this hard gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.'The Renaissance (1873) at once became the touchstone for the decadent imagination for a generation of Oxford undergraduates.Pater was shocked at the reaction his book inspired: 'I wish they would not call me a hedonist, it gives such a wrong impression to those who do not know Greek.'.The book had begun as a series of idiosyncratic, impressionistic critical essays on those artists that embodied for him the spirit of the Renaissance; by collecting them and adding his infamous Conclusion, Pater gained a reputation as a daring modern philosopher.But The Renaissance survives as one of the most innovative pieces of cultural criticism to emerge from the nineteenth century.Oscar Wilde, a former student, would praise Studies as the "golden book" of his youth, but the notoriety Pater's work attracted among traditionalists turned him away from publishing another book for twelve years. In Studies, Pater redefined the Renaissance as a "tendency" in human civilization, rather than as a specific historical "moment"—a tendency that was born in ancient Greece and is characterized by the "desire for a more liberal and comely way of conceiving life." He would do the same to the terms "Romantic" and "classical" in an 1876 essay.