James Fitzgerald was born in Boston in 1899 and studied at the Massachusetts School of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School as well as with Armin Hansen in Monterey, California. He was a member of the California Watercolor Society and the Carmel Art Association. Fitzgerald exhibited his works at the Santa Cruz Statewide Exhibitions in 1930, 1935 and 1939, the Golden Gate Exhibition in San Francisco in 1939, the Boston Society of Watercolor Painters (1947 and 1948), the Fitchburg Art Museum, as well as at Bowdoin and Colby Colleges. During his lifetime, Fitzgerald traveled and painted all over the world, including around Monterey, California, in Jamaica, Nova Scotia, the Canary Islands and the Isle of Aran in Ireland. His travels also took him to Monhegan Island, off the Maine coast, in 1943. Taken with the island, its rugged landscape and residents, Fitzgerald spent 28 summers painting on Monhegan.