Robert Philipp was born on February 2, 1895 in New York City. He was an American painter influenced by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and known for his nudes, still lifes, and portraits of attractive women and Hollywood stars. Moses Solomon Philipp showed early talent and grew up in a family atmosphere that fed and cultivated his creativity. At age of 15, he entered the Art Students League for four years and then continued his training at the National Academy of Design. His teachers at the League included George Bridgeman and Frank DuMond, and at the National Academy he studied with Douglas Volk and George Willoughby Maynard.
After the death of his father, Philipp turned away from painting for a time and joined his uncle's opera company as a tenor. He eventually returned to painting and settled in Paris, living there in the 1920s. The exact date of Paris sojourn is not known, but he reportedly lived there for ten years, supporting himself through the sale of his paintings. Back in New York in the early 1930s, Philipp was gaining a reputation for his portraits and figure studies. His - Olympia - won the Logan prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1936 and was subsequently purchase by J. Paul Getty. During the Depression, he worked for the Public Works of Arts Project. In 1934, he married artist Shelly (Rochelle) Post, who became his favorite model until her death in 1971. Critic Henry McBride called Philipp "One of the top ten painters in America." It was during the 1930s that he began to paint landscapes, still lives and nudes evolving a distinctively lyric and modern style.
Philipp painted passionately and directly creating a synthesis of observation and poetic vision using high keyed colors and rhythmic treatment of form. Philipp's work, in his later years, began to increasingly resemble the Expressionist and emotional style of Chaim Soutine. He conveyed his subjects with a certain sensitivity and understanding that his viewers could relate to. Philipp, as a teacher at the Art Students League for over thirty years and at the National Academy for sixteen years, was an important influence on American art. As a teacher, he was well known for his attention to color and his constant emphasis on the importance of drawing. He was a member of the Lotus Club, National Academy of Design and Royal Society of Arts.
Philipp taught at the High Museum of Art, 1946; University of Illinois, 1940; Art Students' League of New York and the National Academy of design. He was also elected an associate of the National Academy and later full Academician of the National Academy of Design. He won numerous awards during his life including the third Hallgarten Prize, 1922; prizes from the National Academy of Design, 1947 and 1951; Laguna Beach Art Association prize; medal prize, Art Institute of Chicago, 1936; IBM, 1939; bronze medal, Allied Artists of America, 1958 and others. Robert Philipp passed away in 1981.