Webb, Daniel

An inquiry into the beauties of painting; and into the merits of the most celebrated painters, ancient and modern. The third edition.

London, for J. Dodsley 1769.

Reference: 06830
Price: £185 [convert currency]

Full Description

8vo. xv+(1)+200pp. Contemporary full calf, gilt, spine and corners worn. chipped at foot of spine. Recent note in red ink on front free endpaper by the art historian Peter Murray, quoting Anthony Blunt’s opinion of the work (“plagiarised from Mengs”) . Bookplate of Peter and Linda Murray.

An introduction to the study of paintings written primarily for travellers going on the Grand Tour, in an attempt to give them some kind of discerning eye when looking at art abroad. The course is divided into seven dialogues, each covering a general topic such as composition or chiaroscuro. First published in 1760, this is the best-known of the writings of its author, Daniel Webb (c.1719-1798) ; Winckelmann realised that much of its text is derived from a similar book written a little earlier by the eminent painter Anton Mengs, and criticised Webb accordingly, but it should be recorded in fairness to Webb that while travelling in Italy in 1755-6 Webb had in fact been painted by Mengs and had been given a copy by him of the book in question, so Webb was not borrowing from the writings of a person he did not know. Webb’s book was also much more influential in Britain than any acknowledged writings by Mengs.

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