From very humble beginnings, French painter Victor Gilbert would find popularity among the public as well as the State. His works would be purchased by collectors and the government alike for its realistic depictions of everyday life and for its eventual transition to softer, more "picturesque" scenes of elegant middle class women and family life.
Gilbert's style spanned two movements, the Realist and the later Impressionist, which can both be seen in his body of work. His lack of formal training meant he learned from each experience, each viewing of another artist's work, and each experiment. Though he did receive some training at the Ecole de La Ville de Paris, and was also able to study under Victor Adam and Charles Busson later in his career, he worked mostly as an artisan, doing decorative paint work, during his earliest period.
Despite any formal education he worked to quickly establish a good reputation as a genre painter, and was embraced by the Parisian public. His depiction of "Belle Epoque" Paris was a common and beloved theme, but Gilbert delivered a less "prettified" view, that nonetheless revealed the finest details of city life.
Gilbert first exhibited in 1873, and continued to submit regularly to the Salon until 1933. In 1874 he made the acquaintance of Pierre Martin, who was a key supporter of the Impressionists and collected their work, which eventually included Gilbert's. It was his patronage that allowed the artist to devote himself to his art on a full time basis.
By 1889 Gilbert was given the award d'argent, and in 1897 he was made a knight of the Legion d'honneur. The year 1926 brought him the Prix Leon Bonnat. Gilbert continued to work until his death in 1933.