Longtime friends of Questroyal, David and Laura Grey have spent years cultivating an impressive collection of American art. Recently, they generously donated Tower by Moonlight by Thomas Cole to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. The painting was at the site in Cedar Grove where Cole spent the last fifteen years of his life and painted many of his renowned masterpieces. It serves as both an exhibition space for the artist’s work and a memorial.
Inspired by the poem Love by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Cole painted Tower by Moonlight as a study for an important commission which he entitled Sweet Genevieve & her Lover (1). In this series he depicts Genevieve and her suitor as two small figures in the foreground beside a stone coffin. Behind them the moon rises as twilight fades upon a ruined tower. Cole was greatly influenced by the poets of his time and the romantic imagery of Tower by Moonlight exemplifies the artist’s use of romantic themes such as chivalry and love in his paintings.
The Grey’s gift of Tower by Moonlight will undoubtedly bring much enjoyment to Cedar Grove visitors and Hudson River School enthusiasts.
1. Kevin Sharp, Poetic Journey: American Paintings from the Grey Collection (New Britain: New Britain Museum of American Art, 2007), 6-7.