When he was fifleen years old, Appian attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at Lyon, studying under Jean-Michel Grobon and Augustin Alexandre Thierrat. His education behind him, Appian opened a studio in Lyon and worked as a graphic designer. In 1853 he exhibited a painting and a charcoal drawing in the Paris Salon. It was in Paris that Appian was befriended by Corot and Daubigny, whose work greatly influenced his style. Appian began to work in the south and east of France, concentrating on rendering landscape subjects in a monochromatic palette and emphasizing his charcoal drawing. In 1870 his style changed, and he began painting in brilliant and striking color while continuing to make charcoal drawings. Appian was also a noted printmaker, producing primarily small etchings of landscape subjects in the Barbizon style.