Thomas Cole's series The Voyage of Life at the National Gallery of Art has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid, frequenting the museum with my family. The series depicts a voyager, accompanied by a guardian angel, as he rides the River of Life through childhood, youth, manhood, and old age.
In Childhood, the infant enters a lush summer landscape. In Youth, the boy takes the helm and rides toward a palace in the clouds. Manhood is depicted as treacherous and stormy, the voyager praying to help guide him through the tumultuous rapids of the River. Finally, in the fourth picture, the voyager is an old man and the landscape is dark and tranquil while a bright light and an angel descend toward him. The guardian angel guides him toward heaven, faith having carried him through his voyage.
It was such a treat when my friend Mary sent me links to both a movie about Thomas Cole, and an excellent web site about him, too! (Links are at the bottom of this post.) Cole was the founder of the Hudson River School
, and his paintings of the American landscape are awe-inspiring. The movie portrays Cole as an early environmentalist, concerned about man's ravages of nature, where he had found so much beauty.
Cool web site: