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"Don Troiani's Boston Massacre" Topic

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Saginaw10 Aug 2017 7:11 a.m. PST

Has anyone here seen the latest subject from the prolific military artist Don Troiani?"


IMHO, this is an ABSOLUTELY STUNNING depiction of the tragic Boston Massacre that most of us learned about as kids in school. And as this was done by Mr. Troiani, with his reputation for meticulous research, I'm going to say that this may be, by far, the most accurate portrayal of this important incident leading up to the American Revolution. By the way, a larger version (with a wordmark) can be seen at the following:


thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 8:48 a.m. PST

That IS nice!

Winston Smith10 Aug 2017 9:25 a.m. PST

Interesting uniforms. Three years after the uniform warrant, some regiments haven't received the memo yet. You would be better off using FIW Grenadiers than AWI.
Which is of course what is shown in Paul Revere's propaganda engraving.

42flanker10 Aug 2017 11:09 a.m. PST

The 29th had only got a new Colonel, Lt-Gen. William Evelyn, the year before,in March 1769, succeeding Viscount Forbes. That might have created a hiatus, although soldiers were meant by rights to get new coats every year. Grenadier caps were a different matter. If new caps had only recently been acquired, unless the Colonel was very well wealthy, he would hardly be willing to shell out for the new pattern simply for form's sake. The distance from home would have added to dislocation over the period 1768-1770.

Earlier discussion here:

TMP link

goragrad10 Aug 2017 11:26 a.m. PST

Nice work!

tigrifsgt10 Aug 2017 12:08 p.m. PST

Just live with it guys. He's well known for getting the uniforms wrong in his paintings.

Leadjunky10 Aug 2017 1:01 p.m. PST

He wanted to depict me gaming the scenario with the figures I had in my collection. 😁

42flanker10 Aug 2017 1:14 p.m. PST

I don't think DT could be regarded as reckless.

Pan Marek10 Aug 2017 1:21 p.m. PST

Actually, everything I've ever read or heard about Troiani is that he is a fastidious researcher, to the point of obsessiveness. Always the ahead of the curve on research. He is also a fervent collector of actual AWI items. "Well known" for inaccuracy? Who says?

In the meantime, given how obvious the alleged error in this painting is, Troiani likely has his ducks in a row for this.

Ceterman10 Aug 2017 1:24 p.m. PST

tigrifsgt, I guess all those ORIGINAL UNIFORMS he has are wrong too… I'm sorry folks, it don't get any better than Mr. Troiani. Period.

Ceterman10 Aug 2017 1:25 p.m. PST


Winston Smith10 Aug 2017 1:47 p.m. PST

Just live with it guys. He's well known for getting the uniforms wrong in his paintings.

Errr…. What did he get wrong there?
And who called him on it? I was commenting how much the painting agreed with Paul Revere's propaganda.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 3:59 p.m. PST

I'm intrigued by the inclusion of the man in the black or blue velvet plush coat, trimmed with gold, cited by witnesses in the case as being both supportive of the soldiers and apparently encouraging them to fire. As far as I can tell, this figure's identity is not recorded anywhere, or perhaps even known (an odd thing in a town like Boston). I'm curious as to what speculation has been offered regarding his identity (and whether the artist used any particular historical or present day person as his model).

I'm certain all sorts of allegations as to who it was exist, and to his motivations (truly a Loyalist caught up in the moment, or a more nefarious "serpent" trying to cause an incident for the benefit of one side or the other?).

Anyone more informed than me aware of thoughts on this, whether serious or kooky?

Winston Smith10 Aug 2017 7:06 p.m. PST

Sam Adams, of course. He was into everything!

Ironwolf11 Aug 2017 4:53 a.m. PST

hahaha, I was going to blame Sam Adams also.

axabrax11 Aug 2017 6:52 a.m. PST

Beautiful work. Don't get tigrifsgt's comment. Troiani has a rep for accuracy. Please qualify your comments by pointing out specifically what is wrong in this painting and which other paintings have tarnished his rep. It's too easy to just throw out comments like yours with no basis as a sweeping generalization. Otherwise no one is going to take you seriously…

tigrifsgt11 Aug 2017 7:20 a.m. PST

I'll take the hit on this painting since all of you experts on AWI garb are attacking me. I'll just say this isn't the first time that the uniform expert has gotten things wrong. Presently I don't have the time or the inclination to go back and find the thread that has all the mistakes that he made on my Tiger Rifle uniform. Also, I like his paintings. They are great to look at and bring a certain life to the subjects. And would do nothing to tarnish his reputation as a painter.

Rawdon11 Aug 2017 8:04 a.m. PST

I have no basis for discussing the accuracy – itself a loaded word when the topic is 18th century military uniforms – of the painting. I will just comment that I am more surprised that the turnbacks are in the regimental color instead of white, than by the mitred grenadiers. My problem here is that the CUT of the coats is per the 1768 warrant and notably different from the 7-Years-War era cut. Also, unlike mitre hats it is hard to see the coats lasting 7 years. I really would have thought that when new coats were made in the new style, they would also have included the new white turnbacks.

nevinsrip11 Aug 2017 10:12 a.m. PST

It's a painting. That's all.

A painting.

42flanker11 Aug 2017 10:15 a.m. PST

My problem here is that the CUT of the coats is per the 1768 warrant and notably different from the 7-Years-War era cut.

It is interesting you say that. Studying the soldier standing in profile at the officers back while drawing his ramrod, to judge by the lack of 'cape' or turn-down collar, on his coat, but with laced yellow cuff ( a little ambiguous, I'd say) and the lowest laced button hole visible on the body of the coat (as opposed to on a lapel), together with the glimpse of red waistcoat revealed by the rear yellow turn-backs of the two grenadiers with their heads cocked right as they fire, I'd say those are '1747'pattern coats buttoned across for warmth.

I am fairly sure I have read a recent exposition by DT explaining his decisions re this depiction of the 29th in 1770, but the caption for his depiction of a 'Vein-Opener' from 'Soldiers of the Revolution'(2007) will have to do:

(a mighty sunny day by the look of it)

"It was only shortly before the Boston Massacre that the 29th received its first issue of uniforms conforming to the 1768 specifications and following traditional regimental economy, it would take even longer for the older articles of military clothing still in wearable condition to be cycled out of use. This reconstruction is based on both the published regulations and eyewitness artwork depicting the regiment in Boston (including the Christian Remick watercolour of Boston Common and the Paul Revere engraving of the Boston Massacre). It consists of a pre-1768 warrant regimental coat, still lined with yellow and festooned with old pattern lace… It was common practice…[SNIP] to retain older coats for routine duties and off duty wear, thereby preserving the new coats for dress parade and other formal duties. HIs white woolen waistocat and breeches are of the new style, replacing the red 'smallclothes of earlier warrants"

It seems DT's thinking has evolved since 2007 as the grenadiers in the new painting wear white breeches but, AFICS, retain the red waistcoats. Although not really relevant for a winter scene, troops in North America would also wear white smallclothes of 'Osnaberg' prior to 1768.

His thinking re. the grenadiers' headgear on the night appears to have changed as well (third cue down):

See also Supercilius Maximus' post in the earlier discussion here.

TMP link

Supercilius Maximus11 Aug 2017 10:34 a.m. PST

Further to 42nd's point about old clothing being used for everyday wear, it is worth pointing out that in March, the 1770 clothing issue might not even have arrived in N America as merchant ships tended not to cross the Atlantic until late March/early April, but in any case, the new issue would not be worn until the King's birthday parade in June as it would take time for it to be tailored to the individual wearer.

Furthermore, it is equally possible that the 1769 issue had been prepared, or at least contracted for, prior to the issue of the 1768 Warrant, so might still have been in the old style; and it might have been the "old" clothing in wear in March 1770.

Given that eye-witnesses (per the Doolittle cartoons) show British grenadiers in hats, rather than caps bearskin or otherwise on the day of Lexington and Concord, I find it hard to believe they would have had them to hand (let alone actually worn them) in the rough-and-tumble of a street brawl in Boston. The Revere engraving shows them in hats and fairly accurate uniform details in all other respects, including the bayonet still being worn around the waist. However, the Revere engraving does get one detail wrong Preston's sash (sabre belt?) is over the wrong shoulder left for infantry, right for cavalry (Troiani does have that detail right) whereas the sash should be worn around the waist per the 1768 Warrant, although older officers, such as Preston, may have stuck to the former methods.

spontoon11 Aug 2017 10:57 a.m. PST

First I've heard of the Scottish Broadsword bit. Justifies them opening fire , methinks.

historygamer11 Aug 2017 4:17 p.m. PST


I big to differ on one point. I think you have it backwards – pre-1768 infantry officers wore their sash over their right shoulder, the knot was on the same side as the sword:


Haitiansoldier11 Aug 2017 5:07 p.m. PST

Great. I wish we could see Don do some battle scenes for Brandywine and Monmouth.

Supercilius Maximus11 Aug 2017 5:48 p.m. PST

Ah, you are right, I am wrong, and it is both Revere AND Troiani who have the sash on the wrong shoulder!

historygamer11 Aug 2017 7:02 p.m. PST

Perhaps you were thinking of Highland officers :-)

Early morning writer11 Aug 2017 9:01 p.m. PST

I'm not going to speak to the accuracy of the uniforms or the painting – although my first look had me wondering "grenadier caps!?". What I'll comment on is the composition. I'd expect so much more from Troiani. That composition, to me, is, well, terrible. A historical painting should tell a story even to one unfamiliar with the event. If I weren't familiar with the history I'd guess that was a firing squad with some poor soul up against the wall of a building. Is there more to the image than in the link? If not, well, I'd take a quick pass – and not just because of the price.

Now, if it showed both the firing party and the victims, my opinion would be different. But I'd still be scratching my head over the grenadier caps.

And, mind you, I like Troiani's work generally (even if spelling his name gives me fits!).

historygamer12 Aug 2017 5:25 a.m. PST

42nd – you said earlier that the British soldiers in Norh Americaeire white osnaburg small clothes. My understanding is that wool was issued – except for Braddocks two regiments in 1755 for summer wear. Can you document the osnaburg statement?

42flanker12 Aug 2017 6:00 a.m. PST

Mollo's Seven Years War book depicts soldiers wearing 'Osnaburg' small clothes in America. These weren't 'regulation' but a campaign expedient as seen again in the AWI. Can't remember whether McGregor's figures were for Braddock's campaign or Louisbourg.

historygamer12 Aug 2017 8:16 a.m. PST

Braddock and it was apparently only done on that campaign.

tigrifsgt12 Aug 2017 9:01 a.m. PST

axabrax: Evidently my comments brought out the experts. So the decision is yours as to what is to be believed about his historical accuracy.

42flanker12 Aug 2017 1:00 p.m. PST

historygamer- yes, I have Mollo in front of me now. Braddock it is. Interesting, though, that McGregor's illustration for the 60th at Quebec a few pages later shows a soldier also wearing white breeches with mitasses, although these aren't referred to in the notes and we can't be sure as to their source for this. If a reliable image, I think linen would be more likely than wool, don't you?

Braddock's measure to provide more suitable clothing for troops labouring through the backwoods in summer may not have been an isolated example. We certainly have evidence a number of other campaign adaptations later in the F&W.

I did not mean to suggest, however, that the wearing of white linen small clothes was the norm in North America before 1770. In general, non-regulation clothing seems to have been adopted for campaign or for climatic extremes. It would have been less likely for troops in a peacetime garrison.

coopman Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 6:38 a.m. PST

I doubt that any of us know as much about AWI uniforms as Troiani does.

23rdFusilier13 Aug 2017 7:29 a.m. PST

If nothing else the painting got me reacheding for my books on the "massacre" to re-read them.

historygamer16 Aug 2017 8:55 a.m. PST

"I doubt that any of us know as much about AWI uniforms as Troiani does."

Don is good, but not infallible. Also, at least some of his research is done by Jim Kochan. Jim is good, but not infallible. Remember, as an artist he has to color in the parts that nothing is known about.

That said, I like his artwork and own some, including one piece not available to the general public.

Don Troiani05 Sep 2017 2:08 p.m. PST

Someone here passed along this thread to me . Many of the questions here about the Boston Massacre painting have already been discussed in detail on my Facebook page which you all are welcome to participate in. That's usually where I am available to answer questions about my research rather then follow the all various discussion forums. I always try to be available to answer questions.
The evidence points to the grenadiers of the 29th wearing caps of the old pattern in Boston as shown in the print of the drilling on the Green. The cap itself is based on an original from the 12th Regiment of Foot in the Zeughaus in Berlin and the grenadier in the print with a similar cap. In addition a witness in the trial testimony said the soldiers were wearing caps that night. This painting was the result of a huge amount of research including each and every building each British soldier and many of the civilians . Also the painting shown in the link is somewhat cropped especially on the left.
No one is infallible but in researching my paintings I try to leave no stone unturned. Many times educated guesses are required to fill in missing details.
The person called tigrifsgt has been attacking my research for some time . Rather then snipe from the shadows and throw ambiguous unsubstantiated accusations he is welcome to discuss his "specific" issues with me here and now (I assume it's about my Tiger Rifles painting from what I'm told) .

Virginia Tory06 Sep 2017 5:19 a.m. PST

I like the painting--can't have too much accurately done historical art!

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