Dawson Gallery


Born in 1839 in Washington, D.C., the son of John Gadsby Chapman, a popular painter of landscapes and portraits whose best-known work today is The Baptism of Pocahontas in the United States Capitol.  The elder Chapman also was known for The American Drawing Book,  which became a classic instruction book for generations of would-be artists.

In 1848, the Chapman family moved to Europe and lived there for many years.  It was only natural that J. Linton and his brother, Conrad Wise Chapman, should study under their father and follow him as painters.  Conrad, however, had the motivation to make a name for himself.  When the Civil War broke out in the United States, Conrad returned to fight for the Confederacy; he went to Mexico after the war and fell in love with the lush beauty of that country.

In 1866, Conrad made plans with Linton to open a large photographic establishment in Mexico, but nothing materialized.  Instead, Conrad went to Paris to study under Gerome, whom he admired.  Linton remained in Italy, painting meticulously detailed landscapes of ruined aqueducts and other vestiges of imperial Rome. 

Linton returned to New York in 1878 and worked in and around the city for the rest of his life.  He married, but the marriage failed.  He seems to have been known principally for a tendency to live beyond his means.  One friend commented that he seemed not to have the slightest idea of how to take care of himself.  He continued to paint Italian landscapes, but interspersed them with scenes of such American landmarks as the Erie Canal.

In 1897, Linton did the illustrations for Diomed; The Life, Travels and Observations of a Dog, written by John Wise, a relative of an old friend of his father.  Linton Chapman died destitute in Westchester, New York in 1905.  It was not until the following year that funds were raised for his burial.


Michael Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"

John Linton Chapman

and Family Studio

1839-1905 American

Herding Cattle, Roman Compagna