ArtStory: Voyage of Life, Childhood

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ArtStory is like story time, but with art instead of a book. Join us for these short presentations on works from the museum's collection and have fun "reading" art! Interested in reading art on your own? Here are some tips to get you started!

ArtStory: Voyage of Life, Childhood

This ArtStory explores Thomas Cole's 1839 oil study Voyage of Life, Childhood for his Voyage of Life series (1942.56.1).

Voyage of Life, Childhood

Study for the Voyage of Life, Childhood, Thomas Cole (1801-1848), 1839, oil on wood panel, 11 3/4 H x 14 W, Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase, 1942.56.1

This painting is currently on view in the exhibition The Hudson River School: Landscape Paintings from the Albany Institute.

More about this painting:

After completing his first series of monumental paintings, The Course of Empire, Thomas Cole settled on an equally challenging sequel. The painting series The Voyage of Life—for which this is a small oil study—uses a stream and a voyager as metaphors for the course of human life. When still conceptualizing the work, Cole wrote that the "childhood" segment would show "the source of a river—issuing from a cave & a child in a boat—with a guardian Angel steering—"

The finished series of paintings is in the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, NY, and a replica set by Cole is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

This work is part of the Albany Institute's premier collection of more than 500 works by Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River school of painting.

Preliminary Sketch for the Voyage of Life, Childhood

Preliminary Sketch for the Voyage of Life, Childhood, Thomas Cole (1801–1848), c. 1837–1839, ink on paper, ht., 6 H x 7 3/4 W, gift of Mrs. Florence Cole Vincent, 1958.28.103

This sketch is not currently on view.

More about this collection item:

Most recently on view to the public in the 2018 exhibition Thomas Cole’s Paper Trail, this unassuming drawing is one of Thomas Cole’s earliest sketches for his The Voyage of Life series. Cole quickly drew this sketch on the back of an envelope addressed to “T. Cole, Esq./ Catskill/ N.Y.” and postmarked July 22. It is a preliminary sketch for The Voyage of Life: Childhood.