Macpherson left Scotland in the early 1840s and settled in Rome, where he gained prominence as a topographic painter, connoisseur, and dealer of art. Hampered by lack of discipline rather than poverty of talent, Macpherson was only mildly successful as a painter. When introduced to photography in 1851, he abandoned the easel as rapidly as he had given up medicine a decade earlier and devoted himself wholly to the camera. Over the next dozen years he produced more than three hundred large views of Rome and other nearby Italian sites. Macpherson's photographs were immensely popular both in Britain and with his countrymen traveling in Italy, for he not only provided pictorial souvenirs of the Eternal City, he also tapped a vein of romantic interest in the picturesque landscape, guided in subject and viewpoint by his experience as a topographic painter.