Sometimes the stars are in the right alignment . . .
Can you tell I’m so excited I can hardly stand it? I’ve found the perfect art for the covers for this series—at least most of them—and they were right under my nose! It just never occurred to me until recently that these gorgeous and historically accurate paintings might be available for licensing.
If you’ve ever done much research into American history from the French and Indian War through the Civil War, you’ve undoubtedly run into Don Troiani’s paintings. Several years ago I purchased his beautifully detailed Soldiers in America: 1754–1865, with text by Earl J. Coates and James L. Kochan. I refer to it whenever any questions about the uniforms and weaponry of the Revolution arise. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Troiani’s work, here’s his bio from the dust jacket.
Mr. Troiani’s paintings have appeared in numerous national collections, including the National Park Service, West Point Military Academy, and the Smithsonian Institute. Known for his incredibly accurate renditions of the American Revolution and the Civil War, he is also a respected authority on uniforms and equipage of the American military. His collection of military antiques ranks among the most important in the country.
Once it occurred to me that I might be able to get the rights to use some of Mr. Troiani’s images, I did an internet search, which immediately led me to the Military and Historical Image Bank. I was pretty sure the fee to use them was going to be more than I could afford, but happily good folks at MHIB were willing accommodate my budget. It always pays to ask!
There are also a whole lot more of Mr. Troiani’s paintings than are shown in the book. I was able to match several to the volumes in the series, along with several smaller images for some of the back covers, such as one of an officer of the British 17th Light Dragoons, to go on the back cover of Daughter of Liberty to represent Jonathan Carleton. There are only a couple of volumes that I’ll need to find other artwork for. Below is a list, with the volume and the corresponding image. Since I only have permission for the first image so far, the others are shown with the watermark.
1. Daughter of Liberty: Stand Your Ground, the Battle of Lexington Green
Back cover: British 17th Light Dragoons (an almost perfect stand-in for Carleton!)
2. Native Son: The Battle of Oriskany, 1777 (Okay, it’s the wrong battle and date for the story and the Indians are Oneida instead of Shawnee, but this is as close as we’re gonna get!)
3. Wind of the Spirit back cover image: Shawnee Indian Warrior 1750-80
4. Crucible of War: General George Washington at the Battle of Princeton (tentative, above). To the right is the image I’d love to have.
Back cover (left): Battle of Eutaw Springs, Sept. 8, 1781. (Yeah, I know, but it’s a great stand-in for Carleton in this volume when he comes within a hair's breadth of being captured by the British. Ummm. . . forget I mentioned that!)
6. Refiner’s Fire: The Cavalry Battle at Cowpens 1781 (tentative)
7. Forge of Freedom: A Prayer of Thanksgiving, April 19, 1783
For the front covers of Wind of the Spirit and Valley of the Shadow, and also potentially for Crucible of War, I’ll need to find other artwork. I’m hoping to find appropriate historical paintings that can be licensed. Valley of the Shadow and/or Refiner’s Fire will need a naval image. There’s one of the battle between the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis (right) that would be perfect for Refiner’s Fire, if I can only find out where it’s located and whether it can be licensed. Also one of Washington at the Battle of Princeton that would be absolutely fabulous for Crucible of War, but I haven’t yet been able to determine who the artist is or where the painting resides. But I’m working on it.
These images will take up only part of the front cover, either the top or bottom. The rest of the space will have an image representing Elizabeth Howard or something else relevant to the volume, and a bar with the title and my name. I’m saving up my pennies to purchase the rights for each as we get to work on the cover, so it’s going to take a while to get them all done. But at least I finally have a plan and a basic design, and that feels great. And Crucible of War is flowing right along, which feels pretty exhilarating too!