Renowned for his elegant portrait busts of public personages and monumental and allegorical figures, Web Gilbert was largely self-taught as a sculptor. As a child he worked as an apprentice chef in Melbourne and it is believed his skill modelling pastry and decorations for wedding cakes aroused his subsequent interest in sculpture. After learning the art of marble carving he was drawn to the immediacy inherent to direct casting in bronze. He met Australian Impressionist painter Frederick McCubbin during the 1880s at the National Gallery School where he was a student.
Godfrey V. Shillinglaw was an employee of the National Bank of Australia for 48 years, and at one time Manger of their London office.