Ximenes initially embarked on literary studies but then took up sculpture and attended the courses at the Palermo Academy of Fine Arts. His training was completed in close contact with the Neapolitan school of Verism as a pupil of Domenico Morelli and Stanislao Lista at the Naples Academy from 1872 on. He also established a close relationship with Vincenzo Gemito.
He returned to Palermo in 1874 and won a competition for a four-year grant, which enabled him to study Renaissance sculpture in Florence. He exhibited work in 1878 in Paris, where he came into contact with Auguste Rodin and Jean-Baptiste Carpeux. On returning to Italy, he established his place on the art scene with a broad repertoire of portraits, genre works and funerary statuary, in which his initial realism gave way to Symbolist and Neo-Renaissance elements. In addition to sculpture, he also produced illustrations for the works of Edmondo De Amicis published by Treves.
Ximenes was involved in all the major official monumental projects in Italy from the 1880s on and devoted his energies as from 1911 primarily to commissions for important public works in São Paulo, Kiev, New York and Buenos Aires.