Travaglini ran for the Senate in 1992, and within the decade was guiding the upper house as president through a period of great fiscal instability, as well as leading reforms in healthcare and human services.
After three years Travaglini passed the gavel to his colleague Therese Murray, and commissioned a portrait from Boston artist Thomas Ouellette to mark his tenure. Although a self-described contemporary realist, Ouellette followed Travaglini's request and depicted him in the office of the Senate President (constructed in the eighteenth century), with images of his predecessors placed on the wall behind him. For inspiration, the artist looked to Gilbert Stuart, the leading portrait artist of the federal period, and adopted the low horizon line, exterior column, and dramatic sky often seen in Stuart's political portraits. Even the pattern created by the parted drapes, reflected most obviously in the sails of the boat, can be seen throughout the composition.