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Sept. 09 Art Minute: Thomas Cole, The Architect's Dream

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
Thomas Cole (American (born England), 1801–1848) The Architect's Dream. Oil on canvas, 1840. Purchased with funds from the Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott, 1949.162

Architectural monuments from the distant past dominate The Architect’s Dream, presenting a continuum of the styles from which 19th-century architects took inspiration. In the misty distance, an Egyptian pyramid towers over an Egyptian temple. Two Greek temples are joined by a wall of pilasters (rectangular columns, attached rather than free-standing). Above this wall, a Roman aqueduct and a round Roman temple rest on the foundation of Greek architecture. In the foreground, a Gothic church rises out of the forest.

The dreaming architect in question reclines on huge books of building designs atop a monumental column inscribed with the artist’s name and the name of the patron, architect Ithiel Town (1784-1844). Town, along with his colleague Alexander Jackson Davis, popularized the Greek and Gothic Revival architectural styles in America.

This work is currently on view in Gallery 29B.