"A desert of decay, somber and desolate beyond all expression; and with a history in every stone that strews the ground." This was how the nineteenth-century English novelist Charles Dickens described the Appian Way, an ancient road that led to the city of Rome (visible in the distance here). Like Dickens, scores of American and European tourists traveled this history-laden avenue, eager to contemplate the ruins of a once-great empire. John Linton Chapman and his younger brother Conrad had moved to Rome in 1850, when their artist father opened a studio there. The Chapmans specialized in painting notable attractions such as the Appian Way (of which John Linton reportedly painted ten views) and Italian peasant subjects to satisfy the demand of American tourists.