Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840. Oil on canvas, 53 x 84 1/16 in. Toledo Museum of Art.
“For architecture to arrive at the perfection which we see in the best examples of Greece, Ages of expression and thought must have been necessary [for] the human mind [to] have traveled by slow degrees from the rude column of unknown stone such as formed the druidical structures through the stupendous portals of Egyptian Art to unsurpassed beauty of the Grecian Temple…Roman architecture is but depraved Greek. The forms are borrowed but the spirit was lost & it became more and more rude until it sank to the uncouth incongruities of what are called the dark ages… [Gothic] Architecture aspires to something beyond finite perfection[.] It leaves the philosophic completion of Grecian Art when all is finished to the eye and touch and appeals to the imagination. Partaking of the Genius of Christianity it opens a world beyond the visible in which we dwell…All is lofty, aspiring and mysterious. Its towers and pinnacles climb toward the clouds like airy fabricks. Ever hovering on the verge of the impossible, on it the mind does not dwell with satisfied delight, but takes wing & soars into an imaginary world. The longings, the imaginings, the lofty aspirations of Christianity have found expression in stone” – Thomas Cole, “Letter to the Publick on the Subject of Architecture,” late 1830’s, NYSL; quoted in Parry, The Art of Thomas Cole, Explore Thomas Cole.