The Romantic Movement
In America, the Romantic movement produced the Hudson River School of painting and the writings of, among others, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe. Romantics favored an almost spiritual connection with nature and country living, encouraged expression and personal feelings, and emphasized imagination and mood. In architecture, Romanticism was eclectic, encompassing a number of different styles that were chosen for their aesthetic and associative qualities.
Ranlett was neither the first nor the most important popularizer of mid-19th-century Romantic architecture in America. Alexander Jackson Davis published Rural Residences in 1837 showing his outstanding picturesque designs. The landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing was the most influential writer in the mid-19th century promoting proper house design. Ranlett is significant because his books established a new standard for architectural publications. His books, with their large formats and high-quality production values, contained philosophical discussion and detailed plans, elevations, and specifications. They were models for subsequent architectural pattern books.