Heilbuth was born in Hamburg on 27 June 1826 and studied initially in Düsseldorf and then in Paris under Delaroche and Gleyre. His earlier work includes elaborate history pieces and his best known works were Roman genre scenes involving Cardinals. His more favored later works include a number of outdoor Parisian scenes, as well as pictures depicting the pleasures of the French countryside. He was a well-known exhibitor at the Paris Salon and was made chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1861 and an officer in 1881. From 1878 onward, he increasingly began to paint en plein-air. During the 1880s, like many other artists, he went out to work on the banks of the Seine, especially at Bougival, an area that in those days provided all the pleasures of the countryside and housed the studios of many successful artists like Heilbuth. These pleasure gardens and cafès attracted a wide range of Parisians, respectable middle class tradesmen and demi-mondains, all enjoying freedom from the moral restraints imposed by a close-knit city that often exhausting its citizens with gossip and scandals.