Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Art and Beauty Tuesday

I first saw this painting in the National Gallery in Washington, DC when I was in High School and was mesmerized by it (and by the other 2 in the series).  It was breathtaking to view in person, and the symbolism was so apt, even to my inexperienced eyes.

Thomas Cole's The Voyage of Life: Childhood (detail immediately above) is rich in symbolism.  The little child travels in a golden boat protected by numerous golden angels that make up the boat itself, and a guardian angel that glows with heavenly light.

He is secure in his delight at the lush vegetation within the boat and the serene landscape that surrounds him, unaware of the hourglass carried by the golden angelic figurehead representing the inevitable passage of time.


newguy40 said...

Thanks for the Cole image.

It has remarkable symbolism. I have a couple teen boys and the struggle to keep them safe in today's culture is wearisome and overwhelming at times. The Cole image is wonderful but... sadly a bit naive. I wonder how he'd paint the subject matter today?

Dymphna said...

Good point. Childhood was so often seen as a tabula rassa and all that. I think the image fits better when seen with the other two (Youth and Old Age), which, I plan to use for the next 2 Art and Beauty Tuesdays.

To me, its not so much that childhood is complete innocence, but, that compared to Youth and Old Age, we tend to view it that way.

Also, there is the idea that at childhood, we are so full of promise that inevitably fades as time goes on.

TACParent said...

Interesting pictures. Dark and bright at the same time. I think you did an excellent job giving your analysis of them. I didn't even notice the hour glass, until after I read your description.

Kindred Spirit said...

Oh, Dymphna, this is beautiful! I was just thinking about my angel today during Mass, and I thanked Him for helping me time and time again. Your post also brought to mind the words which I now live by: "Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven." By God's grace, I am becoming myself once again, each day closer to the child I used to be: and it is a wondrous thing.

Dymphna said...

That's an interesting analysis, TAC. The light comes from the angel and much of the rest is in semi-darkness. Actually, I didn't notice the hour glass either, until I read someone else's analysis of it! I'm glad I could find a detail of the original picture.

That's a neat take on it, Kindred. Becoming like little children in your heart. It can be tough to sustain that without God's help.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful artwork. Thanks for sharing!

Dymphna said...

You're welcome!

Barbara said...

I love your "Art and Beauty Tuesday" meme and look forward to learning something new each week. The painting is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Ah, for the halcyon days of childhood. And yes, they end all too quickly. (How naive I was at the time to be so anxious to "grow up"!) It is a wonderful painting. Thanks for sharing it!


Dymphna said...

Thanks, Barbara and Evanscove.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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