Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life

Cole’s extraordinary series chronicles each stage of human life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age.

Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life (Childhood, Youth, Manhood, Old Age), 1842, oil on canvas, Childhood 134.3 x 195.3 cm; Youth 134.3 x 194.9 cm; Manhood 134.3 x 202.6 cm; Old Age 133.4 x 196.2 cm, original commission by Samuel Ward dates to 1839–40; those canvases are now in the Munson-Williams-Proctor-Arts-Institute in Utica, NY; the set at the National Gallery of Art is a copy made by the artist in Europe after tracings of the original so that Cole could publicly display the paintings and sell engravings from the set (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Speakers: Dr. Bryan Zygmont and Dr. Steven Zucker

Childhood, Youth, Manhood, and Old Age at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Thomas Cole on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

William H. Truettner and Alan Wallach, editors, Thomas Cole: Landscape into History, exhibition catalogue (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994).

Smarthistory images for teaching and learning:

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Cite this page as: Dr. Bryan Zygmont and Dr. Steven Zucker, "Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life," in Smarthistory, April 19, 2024, accessed July 19, 2024,