Above, you see The Voyage of Life, a cycle of four paintings by American Painter Thomas Cole. The paintings are called Childhood, Youth, Manhood, and Old Age, respectively, and represent the path one takes through life. You can find these paintings and more of Cole’s works here.
I just wanted to share these paintings because they are beloved to me. I first encountered them two years ago when I went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and after that, I both returned to the Gallery in person multiple times and went to the website to look at these when I could not go back. The idea that our paths through life can be described as something so beautiful, particularly with the imagery of water, which to me yields a sense of home, is glorious.
When I was searching the National Gallery’s database for these paintings, I had some difficulty because I couldn’t remember exactly where Thomas Cole was from, and I couldn’t remember the title exactly. The style of this painting to my untrained eye could be French, or Italian, or German — perhaps too light to be German. But I could not have guessed that the painter was American, and so only when I finally searched the correct title did I find these incredible paintings.
The use of light and dark here (I believe it’s called chiaroscuro in art terms) is incredible, and the colors throughout the set are simply fantastic. The paintings are that much more striking on the grand canvas, and I urge any of you who are or will be in the area to visit and see these paintings.