The dark cavern is emblematic of our earthly origin, and the mysterious Past. The Boat, composed of Figures of the Hours, images the thought, which we are borne on the hours down the Stream of Life. The Boat identifies the subject in each picture. The rosy light of the morning, the luxuriant flowers and plants, are emblems of the joyousness of early life. The close banks, and the limited scope of the scene, indicate the narrow experience of Childhood, and the nature of its pleasures and desires. The Egyptian Lotus in the foreground of the picture is symbolical of Human Life. Joyousness and wonder are the characteristic emotions of childhood.
Cole's renowned four-part series traces the journey of an archetypal hero along the "River of Life." Confidently assuming control of his destiny and oblivious to the dangers that await him, the voyager boldly strives to reach an aerial castle. As the traveler approaches his goal, the ever-more-turbulent stream deviates from its course and relentlessly carries him toward the next picture in the series, where nature's fury, evil demons, and self-doubt will threaten his very existence. Only pray er, Cole suggests, can save the voyager from a dark and tragic fate.
From the innocence of childhood, to the flush of youthful overconfidence, through the trials and tribulations of middle age, to the hero's triumphant salvation, The Voyage of Life seems intrinsically linked to the Christian doctrine of death and resurrection.
Trouble is characteristic of the period of Manhood. In Childhood there is no cankering care; in Youth no despairing thought. It is only when experience has taught us the realities of the world, that we lift from our eyes the golden veil of early life; that we feel deep and abiding sorrow; and in the picture, the gloomy, eclipse-like tone, the conflicting elements, the trees riven by tempest, are the allegory; and the Ocean, dimly seen, figures the end of life, to which the voyager is now approaching. The demon forms are the temptations that beset men in their direst trouble. The upward and imploring look of the voyager, shows his dependence on God, and that faith saves him from the destruction that seems inevitable.
Images comes in a dark ornate wood frame and measure 9"x12"