He picks up a musket to understand how its weight and balance affect the way it is held at rest or in action. When artifacts are too valuable or delicate to be handled, he has reproductions made to enable them to be worn by fully dressed models he poses for his paintings. To be able to paint the natural elements as they were – weather conditions, time of day, lighting – Troiani visits the area where the battle occurred, on the exact date at the exact time. He is on site a few days before and a few days after the event occurred to note the changing mood of the sky and how light plays on the terrain. He goes to great extremes to correctly portray battlefield locations which have not been preserved. Such was the case with his marvelous Concord Bridge. To get it right, with his brush he faithfully reconstructed the bridge and the entire background of stone walls and fences.
Inside the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Troiani’s intimate knowledge of military artifacts and his sensitivity to their truth is evident in two of his paintings located in the entrance foyer of the Minuteman Theater of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Each expresses a distinctly different mood of the men of the Lexington Company of the Middlesex County Brigade, Massachusetts Militia as they react to circumstances happening within just a few hours of each other in a critical moment in American history – the early morning of April 19, 1775, when actions taken led to the Revolutionary War and American Independence. In Lexington Common, Captain John Parker’s hastily gathered militia waits, muskets in hand, for the anticipated arrival of 700 British Regulars. It is near dawn, silvery dark. Assembled on the Common in somber alertness, they face the road to Concord waiting for the unknown. Young William Diamond beats his drum in foreboding cadence. Stand Your Ground is all color and action as Troiani’s amazing realism captures every detail of the opening volley of the American Revolution on Lexington Green, just after sunrise on the morning of April 19, 1775, as Captain Parker and his outnumbered militia face off with the British Regulars. In the forefront are Captain Parker’s militiamen – most of them local farmers, young and old, fathers and sons, each carrying “a good firearm” brought from home, often an American-made musket. Having been ordered by Parker to “Stand your ground,” and “Don’t fire unless fired upon,” and having just complied with a British order to disperse, there is a vulnerability, a hesitancy, and a measure of unusual calm in the body language of the militiamen as they react to the unexpected first shot from the British side, the “shot heard around the world.” Some are firing, others re-loading. One seems hesitant, as if momentarily mentally processing the impact of what being fired upon first means: “If they meant to have a war, let it begin here.” Across the green, the British Regulars, under the command of Major John Pitcairn, advance towards them firing, with dreaded bayonets pointed, ready to take on a man. The first black powder smoke of battle begins to fill the air, and off in the distance, flanking columns of Redcoats advance. Through Don Troiani’s dramatic battlefield compositions, viewers are not merely observers of history. His unique approach thrusts them right into an important moment in America’s history, compelling them to feel the battle, as it was.