Philip Boileau was born in Canada in 1864 to a career diplomat father, serving under Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, and the daughter of the noted United States Senator from Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton. Traveling for most of his early life, the Boileau family moved to England in 1871, where Philip was educated. At the age of 23, he moved to Italy to study art and married a Russian singer, who unfortunately passed a short time later.
In 1897, Philip Boileau emigrated to Baltimore, MD, and found success in painting formal portraits of the city’s high society. In 1900 he moved to Philadelphia, where he met his greatest inspiration, Emily Gilbert. During this time his artworks found greater recognition and were exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Two years later he moved to New York, the center of the expanding art market, and in 1903 he created his first commercially successful illustration, “Peggy,” a head-and-shoulders portrait Emily Gilbert. These beautiful portraits of Emily became his first commercial success, and in 1907, the two married amid Boileau’s flourishing career. In 1915, he placed second in Pictorial Review Magazine’s “Artist of the Year” contest.
In 1917, just fourteen years after painting “Peggy”, Boileau contracted pneumonia and died at his home on Long Island, Douglas Manor at just 53. Had he lived longer his total artistic output would have been significantly larger and he would most likely have become as famous as Charles Dana Gibson or Harrison Fisher.