James Augustus Suydam appears to have been born into a wealthy New York City merchant family, although very little is known about his early life. He studied at NYU c.1839 and traveled to Europe from 1842-45. Suydam spent 10 years in business with his brother before beginning his artistic career. He was considered a second-generation Hudson River School artist. Suydam was known for his subtlety in peaceful compositions and worked in a Luminist manner. He explored infinite variations of aerial perspective and preferred to paint in noon light on clear days. His first exhibition was in 1856 at the National Academy of Design. He traveled to Greece with a friend and teacher and then around upstate New York. When he died Suydam left $50,000 and his collection of American and European paintings to the National Academy of Design.