William Forsyth was born in California, Ohio in 1854 and moved with his family to Indianapolis in 1860. He studied art briefly as a young man, but financial limitations forced Forsyth to seek work. He formed a house painting business with his brother and continued to paint in his free time. Having saved enough money, William Forsyth began attending the Indiana School of Art in 1877 and eventually became an assistant instructor. In exchange for paintings not yet painted, Forsyth was given the opportunity to join his friend T.C. Steele, who was studying at the Royal Academy in Munich. Upon his return to the states, William J. Forsyth would serve as a major figure in the “Hoosier School” of painters, exhibiting with T.C. Steele, Otto Stark, Richard Gruelle, and J. Ottis Adams.