London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley…, 1762. First edition. Half-title lost in rebinding. A very good, clean copy. Nicely rebound in modern calf over marbled boards, new endpapers. Small octavo. , 123 pp. Item #7335
Webb (1718/19-98) came from a reasonably wealthy Irish family and spent much of his life in Bath. He wrote three aesthetic treatises, all short: An Inquiry into the Beauties of Painting (1760), Observations on the Correspondence between Poetry and Music (1769), and the present work. ‘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.