The Bridge of Life. Walter Crane, RWS (1845-1915). 1884. Source: The Work of Walter Crane (1898). Click on image to enlarge it. In The Work of Walter Crane, a special issue of the Art Journal devoted to his career, Crane explained that

‘The Bridge of Life,’ which we reproduce as an extra plate, was my picture in 1884. As far as I remember, the first suggestion came to me in Venice, in looking at the slender marble foot-bridges which cross the canals, and the mixed troops of people of all ages, sexes, and aspects, who pass up and down the steps and across them, or stop to gaze at the flickering water and the gliding, noiseless, black gondolas shooting underneath. I worked at this suggestion, and took immense pains with the design, making sketch after sketch, until I had evolved the idea in its present form.

On the frame I wrote these verses:—

that is Life? A bridge that ever
Bears a throng across a river;
There the taker, here the giver.

Life beginning and Life ending,
Life his substance ever spending,
Time to Life his little lending.

What is Life? In its beginning
From the staff see Clothe spinning
Golden threads, and worth the winning.

Life with Life, fate-woven ever,
Life the web, and Love the weaver,
Atropos at last doth sever!

What is Life to grief complaining?
Fortune, Fame, and Love disdaining,
Hope, perchance, alone remaining. [25-26]

[You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and the Getty Art Institute and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.— George P. Landow]


The Work of Walter Crane with Notes by the Artist. The Easter Art Annual for 1898: Extra Number of the “Art Journal”. London: J. S. Virtue, 1898. Internet Archive version of a copy in the Getty Art Institute. Web. 3 January 2018.

Last modified 27 June 2020