He originally studied painting in Italy (Venice or Rome) but after the death of his brother he went to London and in 1866 settled in Paris where he completed his studies at the School of Fine Arts under Henri Leroux and Jean- Paul Laurens. Residing in the French capital for thirty years, he had a noteworthy career and developed host of artistic activities, participating in many Parisian Salons, in the World Exhibitions of Paris in 1878 and 1889, in the International Exhibition of London in 1862 as well as exhibitions in Greece. During his residence there he travelled to Italy and Russia and in 1899, crushed by the death of his wife, he returned to Greece where he lived alone and inconspicuous in a hotel room, but he continued to work till the end of his life.

Xydias, though he lived in Paris during a period when many painters turned to impressionism, remained at basis an academic painter, without venturing to make any fundamental changes. He was primarily involved with portraiture but also did still lifes, mythological and allegorical scenes and genre work while in 1869 at the request of the Greek community he made three icons for the church of St. Nicholas in Liverpool in which his assimilation of western elements, which characterize the painting of the Ionian islands, is obvious.