In 1751, James Dawkins and Robert Wood set out on an expedition to study the remains of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria. Both men were fascinated by exploration. At this time there was a great interest in the discovery of the ancient world. The findings and drawings of men such as Dawkins and Wood helped inform the taste for the neoclassical that was sweeping Europe. Here, Hamilton has shown the men with their Turkish escorts as they approach Palmyra. It is presented as a scene from classical history, with the two explorers dressed in togas. James Dawkins died in 1757, and this painting was commissioned by his brother Henry, in commemoration of his important studies at Palmyra.