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The Voyage of Life - Old Age - Antique Religious Art Print - Angels - Curiosities and Oddities - Weird & Wonderful - Old Maps and Prints
"The Voyage of Life - Old Age" engraved by James D. Smillie, c. 1856.
The Voyage of Life, painted by Thomas Cole in 1842, is a series of paintings that represent an allegory of the four stages of human life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The paintings follow a voyager who travels in a boat on a river through the mid-19th-century American wilderness. In each painting, accompanied by a guardian angel, the voyager rides the boat on the River of Life. The landscape, corresponding to the seasons of the year, plays a major role in telling the story. In each picture, the boat's direction of travel is reversed from the previous picture. 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.
This final painting, Old Age, is an allegory of death. The man has grown old; he has survived the trials of life. The waters have calmed; the river flows into the waters of eternity. The figurehead and hourglass are missing from the battered boat; the withered old voyager has reached the end of earthly time. In the distance, angels are descending from heaven, while the guardian angel hovers close, gesturing toward the others. The man is once again joyous with the knowledge that faith has sustained him through life. The landscape is practically gone, just a few rough rocks represent the edge of the earthly world, and dark water stretches onward. Cole describes the scene: "The chains of corporeal existence are falling away; and already the mind has glimpses of Immortal Life."
After Cole's unexpected death in February of 1848, the reputation of The Voyage of Life series increased dramatically, and his estate was able to sell it to the American Art-Union a few months after the artist's passing. This organization promoted American art by buying works and distributing them to its members via a lottery. Art-Union members also received engraved reproductions of significant American paintings. Youth—always the most popular of the four paintings—was selected as an offering for a print edition of 20,000. The Engraving Committee engaged James Smillie, "believing him to be superior to any other artist in the country in this department." The fact that they agreed to pay Smillie an astonishing $2500 to reproduce Cole's painting underscores how important this commission was in promoting their organization. Eventually, Smillie made prints of the other three pictures as well, and it was primarily these engraved images that made The Voyage of Life famous throughout America.
12" x 16"
16" x 20" [pictured]
18" x 24"
❖ High resolution images printed at or below optimal size to preserve clarity. We won't blow up an image to sell you a more expensive size!
❖ Digitally restored to remove distracting blemishes, stamps, and damage while still preserving the foxing, wear, and creases that lend to the character of these historic images.
❖ Print size includes a 1-2 inch white margin for easy framing, with or without a mat.
❖ Printed on archival quality Epson Enhanced matte stock:
◆ 10.3 mil thick/192 GSM heavyweight
◆ Acid-free, museum quality
❖ Printed only with Epson UltraChrome HDR ink
◆ Natural high-density pigment colors
◆ Rated lightfast up to 200+ years
❖ Printed on Epson Stylus Pro 7900/9900 printers for giclée quality color and clarity.
❖ Protective hardboard kraft tubes virtually eliminate shipping damage
◆ Made from 70-100% post-consumer recycled content
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