The architect´s dream. 1840. Thomas Cole. From google images
Panel 3 of The Course of the Empire. (Consummation). Thomas Cole, 1836. From google images
The phenomenon of life imitating art may be observed in the elaborately developed art of window draping in the early nineteenth century. Neo-classic taste required the use of drapery in clothes and for domestic interiors to carry the look of antiquity even into the usages of everyday life. The spell of Classical drapery, never entirely broken, was asserting itself yet again in cloth-conscious industrial Europe. Ultimately, in the late nineteenth century, it appeared in the draping of absolutely everything from bustles to banisters. (....) But once the High Renaissance convention was inaugurated for using ornamental drapery off the figure, either randomly or formally arranged, without any visible specific function, it became a universally useful element. (..) Reconstructed Classical scenes in the art of both periods, displaying great efforts at accuracy in costume and architecture, might also include a profusion of invented drapery to clothe columns and arches. An exaggerated example from early-nineteenth-century Romantic Classicism is the third panel, Consummation, of the set of five paintings entitled The Course of Empire (1836) by Thomas Cole. This shows an imaginary, more or less Roman triumph taking place in a harbor city glittering with riches celebrations. The procession occurs in the foreground under arches decked in huge, unimaginable and unmanageable lengths of bright-colored draped material. Indulging this grandiose fancy, Cole goes further with such colossal curtains in The Architect´s Dream, in which literally thousands of yards drape the architectural elements in the foreground, dwarfing the tiny figure.
Seeing through clothes. By Anne Hollander. P. 32-35. USA 1980