As a gifted sculptor Gilbert received many prestigious commissions. He entered the Royal Academy schools after he had failed to win a scholarship to study medicine at the Middlesex Hospital. Gilbert continued his art education in Paris and Rome and his own work was inspired by the idealised nude figures of the classical tradition. He returned to London in 1884 and produced one of his most famous works, the statue of Eros, the Greek god of love, as part of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus. Gilbert was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy in 1900.