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Via Appia

Chapman Via Appia painting

John Linton Chapman (American, 1839 - 1905), Via Appia (1867), Oil on canvas, 28 ¼ x 71 5/8 in. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift from the West Foundation Collection, Atlanta, in honor of William Underwood Eiland.

"American John Linton Chapman's painting, 'Via Appia' (1867), now in the Georgia Museum of Art, shows a pastoral scene amidst the remains of tombs with a view of St. Peter's in the distance.  In the foreground, goatherds rest on the Tomb of the Rabirii and behind them the ruins of the aqueducts along the horizon. The funerary monuments of the Classical past introduce and serve as the teleological focus of Papal Rome, which literally and figuratively arises in the distance from its ruins. The image, however, is fantasy like Piranesi's 'Via Appia Imaginaria.'

Chapman manipulated the locations of the tombs to achieve his perspective of St. Peter's dome.  On the right side, the Tomb of the Rabirii, restored by Luigi Canina, is in the foreground next to a brick tomb (know as Laterizio I because of the opus latericium brickwork and also restored by Luigi Canina).  The brick tomb is in the correct location on the right hand side of the Via Appia but the Tomb of the Rabirii is actually 500m away on the other side of the Via Appia to the right as you leave Rome.  To achieve his perspective, Chapman first painted the brick tomb looking towards Rome but then set up his easel facing the opposite direction to add the Tomb of the Rabirii in the foreground on the right in the place where a brick tomb known as Laterizio II is actually situated, next to Laterizio I looking towards Rome.  The Tomb of the Rabirii survives along a tree-lined Via Appia, but a plaster cast of the relief has replaced the original, which is now in the Museo Nazionale Romano (Palazzo Massimo alle Terme)."

Mario Erasmo, Death: Antiquity and its Legacy (Oxford University Press/IB Tauris/ Bloomsbury, 2012), 97-98.


The Tomb of the Rabirii on Via Appia Antica in the direction away from Rome (photos copyright: Mario Erasmo):

Tomb of the Rabirii todayTomb of the Rabirii front view

Actual view of Tomb Laterizio I on Via Appia Antica from Chapman's perspective looking towards Rome (photo copyright: Mario Erasmo)

Tomb Laterizio I

For a step-by-step walking tour of the Via Appia Antica, follow Tour 14 of Mario Erasmo, Strolling Through Rome: The Definitive Walking Guide to the Eternal City (IB Tauris, 2015/ Bloomsbury, 2019). 

Note that Bus #118 no longer departs from Piazzale Ostiense but there are new stops in the historic centre at the Ara Coeli stop on Via del Teatro di Marcello next to the Cordonata entrance of Piazza del Campidoglio (Tour 5); along Via dei Fori Imperiali; and at the Colosseum (Tour 6).  To visit at the end of Tour 13, there is a stop in Piazza di Porta Capena along the tree-lined Viale delle Terme di Caracalla towards the entrance to the Baths of Caracalla. The Domine Quo Vadis stop on Via Appia Antica is now just before the fork in the road with Via Ardeatine at the visitor information centre of the Parco Regionale dell’ Appia Antica (Tour 14). Other arrival directions remain the same. Return directions from the Via Appia Antica to the #118 bus stops remain the same, but the bus now returns to the locations listed above instead of Piazzale Ostiense.

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