Emile Albert Gruppé was a prolific landscape painter as well as the author of several books explaining technical aspects of oil painting. He became an important figure and well-regarded teacher in Gloucester, Massachusetts, located on the coast northeast of Boston.

Gruppé was born in Rochester, New York. As a youth he lived in Katwijk aan Zee, a coastal town in the Netherlands. His father, Charles Paulo Gruppé, also a painter, was affiliated with The Hague School and served as a dealer of Dutch paintings. In 1913, with the impending arrival of World War I, the family returned to the States. Emile Gruppé studied at the National Academy of Design in New York and attended the summer school of the Art Students League in Woodstock, New York. Another summer he was in Provincetown, Massachusetts, studying under Charles Hawthorne, the mentor of William H. Johnson. Gruppé took further instruction at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. He was philosophical about his various teachers: “I studied with everybody that I thought was any good—each had his own approach. But when they differed, it didn’t matter, because the real art comes after the study, when you’re on your own and have to express your own attitude.” Joining the United States Navy, in 1918 Gruppe was trained at the Pelham Bay Naval Training Station on Rodman’s Neck, the Bronx, New York. 

In 1919 Gruppé taught a three-week class for the Carolina Art Association at the Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina. May Paine was one of his students. Birge Harrison, who like Gruppé had connections to Woodstock, probably prompted the position. Harrison had spent many years in Charleston beginning in 1908 and had befriended local artist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith. Gruppé’s appointment took place a year before Alfred Hutty took the helm of the association’s art school. 

Stylistically, Gruppé’s paintings can be described as impressionistic, as he indicated in this statement: “If you want exacting details in a painting, then you might as well look at a photograph. I make an impression on canvas and let one’s imagination fill in the details.” His favorite subjects were marine scenes in which he delighted in reflections on water.  A potential commission completed in 1926 resulted in a twelve foot-wide painting that promoted the development of Lake Lure in western North Carolina. 

Several years later, Gruppé purchased a small schoolhouse in the Rocky Neck colony of Gloucester for use as a studio, home, and gallery space. Between 1940 and 1970 he was the director of the Gloucester School of Painting and was active with local art associations. At times he had a studio in the Carnegie Hall building in New York. Late in his career he spent time in Florida and was a member of several organizations located on the west coast. Between 1976 and 1979 he published three books: Gruppé on Color: Using Expressive Color to Paint Nature; Brushwork: A Guide to Expressive Brushwork of Oil Painting; and Gruppé on Painting: Direct Techniques in Oil. Gruppé’s descendants still own and maintain the Rocky Neck studio and gallery, now dubbed the Gruppé Gallery, where Emile’s work continues to be appreciated.