After a particularly stressful day at work last Sunday, I decided a sojourn to Adams Avenue Bookstore was just what I needed to soothe my nerves and calm my mind. There's something about used book stores that just helps me feel relaxed and quiet. They're always cool inside, that pervasive musty smell, and oh my the books. There's never a time limit or obligation to buy anything, and the stunning diversity of the collection at Adams Avenue just lets the imagination run wild.
It's always been a personal rule that book-buying is non-budgetary spending; if I see it and want it, I buy it. We're not talking signed first editions here, we're talking old paperbacks and hardbacks without dustjackets. I'm not collecting for the money, I read everything I buy (admittedly I've gotten a bit behind) and having a library stuffed full of books on sports, old cocktail recipes, and the Civil War is just too freaking cool.
Anyway, I went into AAB and immediately got settled in the history section. Within 20 minutes, there was a lovely stack of texts on all manner of Civil War esoterica, now destined for my library. Among these books was a collection of works by famed contemporary Civil War artist Don Troiani, and this is the crux of what we're going to discuss.
Mr. Troiani is touted in circles both historical and artistic as "modern America's finest historical artist" and his depictions of Civil War personalities and battle vignettes are perennially among the best-selling CW pieces, and the marketplace is enormous. He keeps a massive collection of uniforms and armaments in his studio, and goes on location to develop his images, using models in full battle dress to set the scenes. His meticulous attention to detail and historical accuracy even includes test-firing various CW firearms into trees and planks to get the bullet markings just right.
If you read the link about, you will understand the size of this man's reputation and portfolio. Underpinning his reputation and success is this attention to historical accuracy, and here is where I have a huge issue with his work.
I provide you with a link to google images that has a host of images of his paintings (the gallery that supports him online is down). Here it is, what I invite you to do is take a look at the paintings and think about what things strike you. Then think about what might be missing from this depictions of Civil War combat by an artist known for his historical rigor. Here is some music to listen to while you browse the paintings