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The Cover
September 7, 2005

The Voyage of Life: Youth

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2005;294(9):1005. doi:10.1001/jama.294.9.1005

If, to the English, landscape was a religion, then to the Americans it was their bible. The English celebrated their landscape in Constable’s tidy countryside scenes and in Turner’s stormy seas. In literature, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress became their moral guide through the wilderness of life. It took newcomers to America another century or so to catch up, so awed were they by the vastness of their adopted country. A wilderness heretofore only imagined became nothing less than the voice of the creator. Some set out to discover its limits, others preserved it in essays and novels. Thomas Cole (1801-1848), a transplanted Englishman, painted it. His Voyage of Life, an allegorical work of the mysterious progress of human life through all its vicissitudes, captured America’s imagination. In a sense, it might be called the pictorial expression of the familiar Pilgrim’s Progress.

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