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The First Voyage

Image credit: Bury Art Museum

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Notes

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In this painting the artist paints a working class family at leisure. In this genre scene he shows us a strangely intimate glimpse of family life, which it would probably be a mistake to take too literally. At the literal level, the painting depicts the crossing of a shallow river. The youngest member of the family makes the first voyage of the title in a tub, assisted by parents, a brother and a sister. The presence of a prominent yellow butterfly in the left foreground and the two figures on the far bank, more shadowy than the conventions of aerial perspective might require, indicate a deeper level of meaning. The butterfly is often used as a symbol for the soul and its inclusion here suggests that this is no ordinary voyage, but a symbol of the voyage of life itself.

Bury Art Museum

Bury

Title

The First Voyage

Date

1833

Medium

oil on panel

Measurements

H 52.5 x W 63.5 cm

Accession number

86.1901

Acquisition method

acquired as part of the Wrigley Gift

Work type

Painting

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Bury Art Museum

Moss Street, Bury, Greater Manchester BL9 0DF England

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