Thomas Cole's Voyage of Life
February 7–September 20, 2015
Gallery 336


Thomas Cole is widely associated with the founding of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, and the Museum's collection includes fine examples of his work in that mode. In this exhibition, visitors will experience Cole's famous The Voyage of Life as well as studies and other works related to the allegorical series. Drawing from the permanent collection of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art in Utica, New York, the exhibition celebrates one of the major artistic achievements of this 19th-century American artist.

Each of the four paintings in the series depicts a stage of life, represented as a man's trip down a river accompanied by an angelic figure. The first two scenes—Childhood and Youth—are bright scenes of beauty, while the latter two—Manhood and Old Age—are darker and more dramatic. They offer a view of the threats that face the voyager in adulthood as well as life's ultimate conclusion.

Thomas Cole's Voyage of Life will include related oil studies for the massive paintings, and the exhibition also will tell the story of how prints—and, later, photographs of the prints—allowed the compositions to be circulated to a wide audience. Preparatory drawings for the prints as well as impressions of the prints themselves will be included. A brief film addressing Cole's biography and the place of the Voyage of Life within his career also will be presented in the exhibition.