Phillip's first visit to Spain in 1851 inspired the paintings which brought him royal favour. Prince Albert and Queen Victoria gave each other paintings of Spanish themes by Phillip as Christmas gifts. He was born in Aberdeen and pursued his artistic education at the Royal Academy Schools in London. Inspired by the works of Sir David Wilkie, he began by painting scenes of Scottish life but then also followed Wilkie's example by travelling to Spain. He made three visits between 1851 and 1861, and gathered material, strongly influenced by Velázquez and Murillo, which was to transform his work.