London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley, 1760. First edition. A little foxing. A very good copy. Contemporary calf, expertly rebacked. Gilt spine, tooled in compartments, burgundy morocco label. Small octavo. xvi, 200 pp. Item #11719
Webb (1718/19-98) came from a reasonably wealthy Irish family and spent much of his life in Bath. This is the first of three aesthetic treatises written by him; the others are Remarks on the Beauties of Poetry (1762), Observations on the Correspondence between Poetry and Music (1769). “One of the attractive features of Webb’s contribution to aesthetic theory in the eighteenth century lies in his concentration on music, poetry, and painting as works of art qua art, and not as devices or structures for enabling morality or imposing codes of conduct. Webb is genuinely concerned to discuss the empirical effects of these arts as sensual and sensuous artifacts, and the associationist assumptions underlying his comments propel him towards an idea of pure, not purifying, art” (John Valdimir Price, Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century British Philosophers). Webb has received little attention from modern critics and historians, though René Wellek has drawn attention to the “considerable subtlety” in his comments on Shakspeare’s imagery in his History of Modern Criticism.
See Pears, The Discovery of Painting, p. 193.