Bioethics Blogs

Voyage of Life [EOL in Art 79]

Thomas Cole painted “The Voyage of Life” in 1842.  The four paintings represent the stages of human life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The paintings follow a voyager who travels in a boat on a river, the river of life. 

The landscape, corresponding to the seasons of the year, plays a major role in telling the story. 

  • 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.

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