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« ‘Strange old Italian dresses’: Walter Pater, Victorian fashionista? »

Abstract : This article discusses Aesthetic dress as conceived by Walter Pater. Indeed in “Leonardo Da Vinci” (1869), the unfinished Gaston de Latour (1888-1894?), “The School of Giorgione” (1877) and “A Prince of Court Painters” (1885), Pater mentions and describes dress with special emphasis on details. Such descriptions belong to a series of writings on Aesthetic dress, admittedly a core component of British Aestheticism. Pater’s descriptions should therefore be contrasted to the 1870s portraits of Whistler, and to the 1880s-1890s writings of Whistler, Oscar Wilde and Max Beerbohm, along with the caricatures of Aesthetes by George du Maurier and Sir Leslie Ward. Pater responds by progressively delineating the figure of a dandy Aesthete most especially embodied by Henri III king of France who, by playing on a limited chromatic by richly nuanced range, fashions himself distinctively out of any fashion to assert an exclusive jouissance in dress. Such a dandiacal figure is opposed by Pater to characters acting like modern fashion victims in their subservience to the passing fashions and fads of the time.
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Contributor : Bénédicte Coste <>
Submitted on : Saturday, June 15, 2019 - 10:44:26 AM
Last modification on : Sunday, June 16, 2019 - 1:44:03 AM


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial 4.0 International License


  • HAL Id : halshs-02157102, version 1



Bénédicte Coste. « ‘Strange old Italian dresses’: Walter Pater, Victorian fashionista? ». E-rea - Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone, Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone, 2019, Cross-Dressing in Fact, Fiction and Fantasy, 16 (2), ⟨halshs-02157102⟩



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