Thomas Cole's enigmatic painting The Architects Dream, painted in 1840, is a hyperbolic and magisterial vision embodying many of the key philosophical concerns of his day. A visual key into the obtuse world of mid-nineteenth century Romanticism, Pastoralism, and Classicalism, Cole's epic dream-like reproduction of a classical vista has drawn numerous interpretations. In the foreground a reclining young man lounges atop a pile of books layered across a monolithic column. The intentions of the artist are decrypted only with an understanding of the complexities of high Symbolism, and much of the work is suffused with the eccentric requests of the commissioning patron. However, The Architects Dream remains a playful work and a meditation on the act and implications of dreaming. Although a great departure from the spiritual meanderings of the Hudson River School, Cole's ambiguous work retains many of the key tactics of the group. Producing reproductions not from life but instead reliant on their personal experience of a landscape, the group allowed their surrounding interests to shape their images of the natural terrain. Towering above other works of the period, Cole's masterful reverie is one of the most eclectic and ambitious works of American Romanticism.
Painted on commissioned for a leading New York architect, Cole's fee was to be paid partly in books from his patron's massive architectural library. Cole, especially after his ambitious landscape series 'The Course of Empire', felt himself to be akin to an architect; fashioning built compositions in his canvases and even trying his hand at providing blueprints for the Ohio State Capitol. The Architect's Dream is an unrestrained explosion of architectural styles; Gothic, Greek, Moorish, that surround the sleeping figure, inspiring a built future from a contemplation of the past. Unfortunately Cole's commissioner did not accept the painting, bizarrely finding it 'too architectural'. However, the artist's visual reproduction of the archetypal Romantic reverie remains a glorious celebration of the union of painting and the built environment.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
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