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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