After completing his first series of monumental paintings, The Course of Empire, Thomas Cole settled on an equally challenging sequel. The painting series The Voyage of Life—for which this is a small oil study—uses a stream and a voyager as metaphors for the course of human life. When still conceptualizing the work, Cole wrote that the "old age"� segment would show "View of a dark ocean—the boat with an old man just entering on it. Chaos and darkness spread before—but through an opening in the clouds a glorious city seen—and seen approaching the old man the guardian who points to the city""� The finished series of paintings is in the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, NY, and a replica set by Cole is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. This work is part of the Albany Institute's premier collection of more than 500 works by Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River school of painting.