Henry Suydam (1803–1883)
The brother of James, Henry Suydam was born in New York City in 1803. As suggested by the New York Times, which upon his death described Henry as “one of New-York’s eldest and most esteemed citizens,” he was a well-known personage, having experimented in the creative realms of painting and writing. Similar to his brother, Henry likely received a sizable inheritance upon his father’s death in 1841; however, before that time, he started and ran a successful tea business. By his 40s, Henry retired and turned to his personal interests—art, religion, and writing—for enjoyment. Although his paintings and exhibition records at the Washington Art Association and National Academy of Design are the only witnesses to his artistic career, Henry did leave more cohesive proof of his religious philosophies and writing abilities. In 1882 he privately published a book detailing the history of his mother’s family, the Mesiers, combined with a history of the Zion Episcopal Church. Four years later he published Gathered Thoughts, a book described as “a compilation of spiritualist observations and meditations.” He was also a proud friend of famous cleric and social reformer Henry Ward Beecher. In addition to his creative pursuits, Suydam maintained a family, having married and been father to two daughters. He died at age 85 in September of 1888. His serene landscape paintings are primarily found in private collections.
“Funeral of Henry Suydam,” New York Times, September 16, 1888.
Exhibition records are as listed in Who was who in American art, 1564-1975: 400 years of artists in America, Peter
Falk, ed., vol. 3 (Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1999), p. 3224.
Katharine E. Manthorne, “Chapter 1: Becoming a Landscape Artist,” in Katharine E. Manthorne and Mark D. Mitchell, Luminist Horizons, the Art Collection of James A. Suydam (New York: National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts; George Braziller, 2006), p. 26.