Cecilia Beaux was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of French silk manufacturer Jean Adolphe Beaux. After the death of her mother, she was raised by aunts, who recognized her talents and arranged that she receive art instruction from their relative, Catherine Ann Drinker, an accomplished artist who would be a lifelong inspiration. She attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where she was a student of Thomas Eakins. Upon completing PAFA’s program, she went to France were she studied at l’Académie Julian and l’Académie Colarossi. Returning to the United States, she pursued her career in the arts and became a leading figure on the national stage of American culture, known primarily as a society portraitist. Much honored and celebrated, she also enjoyed a twenty-year career as an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where she was the first female instructor. Among her many distinguished students is the great American muralist and illustrator Violet Oakley.