The Voyage of Life

A series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in 1842.

JockeP22, Sep 15, 2016
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    • JockeP22
      The Voyage of Life is a series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in 1842, representing an allegory of the four stages of human life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The paintings depict a voyager who travels in a boat on a river through the mid-19th-century American wilderness.

      In each painting the voyager rides the boat on the River of Life accompanied by a guardian angel. The landscape, each reflecting one of the four seasons of the year, plays a major role in conveying the story. With each installment the boat's direction of travel is reversed from the previous picture.

      In childhood, the infant glides from a dark cave into a rich, green landscape. As a youth, the boy takes control of the boat and aims for a shining castle in the sky. In manhood, the adult relies on prayer and religious faith to sustain him through rough waters and a threatening landscape.

      Finally, the man becomes old and the angel guides him to heaven across the waters of eternity.

      Thomas Cole (February 1, 1801 – February 11, 1848) was an American artist known for his landscape and history paintings. He is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century. Cole's work is known for its romantic portrayal of the American wilderness.

      On February 6, 1848, the Cole family attended a morning service at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Catskill. After lunch, Cole complained of lassitude and by midnight his condition worsened and the doctor was summoned. An attack of pleurisy and congestion of his lungs followed. Thomas Cole died in the Main House at Cedar Grove at 8 pm on Friday, February 11th, 1848. The funeral was held at Saint Luke’s Church and burial was in the family vault at Cedar Grove on February 15th.

      Due to extremely cold weather, however, very few friends could attend these last rites. Cole’s body was later moved to the Thomson Street Cemetery.
    • JockeP22
      Be sure to click on 'Full Size Media' as the paintings are incredibly detailed.
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