Philip was the fourth son of a bank clerk at the Bank of England, Arthur Streatfeild, and his wife, Lydia.
The family lived at "Branscomb", Mount Ephraim Road, Streatham. James and his 2 brothers attended Dulwich College
In 1895 he went to art college and subsequently became a full time artist, based at a studio off the King’s Road. He became a regular at the Royal Academy, having paintings exhibited on six occasions between 1901 and 1908. During this period he also became a regular in society circles, particularly through Lady Eva Astley Cooper, and the events and parties she hosted at her country house, Hambleton Hall.
In the early part of 1914 he encountered a young actor named Noel Coward to whom he became something of a mentor, most notably introducing the young Coward to Lady Astley Cooper and the Hambleton Hall scene, a relationship which was to remain a significant part of Coward’s life for many years to come.
In September 1914 Philip took a commission in the Sherwood Foresters. At the end of that year his unit had been due to be sent to France but at the last minute was instead sent to the Essex coast where they were involved in the digging of trenches to defend against a feared invasion. In March 1915 he became seriously ill with tuberculosis, ultimately passing away as a result that June, at the age of 35. He is buried at Streatham Cemetery
(Dulwich College and IWM)