Born in San Francisco, Edward Cucuel began formal art training at the San Francisco School of Design in 1914. His father was a newspaper publisher, and as a teenager Cucuel worked as an illustrator for several local newspapers. In 1892 he traveled to Paris, where he studied at the Académies Julian and Colarossi before being admitted to the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts to study with academician Jean Léon Gérôme.
When Cucuel returned to the United States in 1896, he settled in New York and earned enough through his work as an illustrator to return to Europe. After several years of travel, he settled in Berlin. In 1907 he moved his studio to Munich. There, he joined the Scholle group of artists led by Leo Putz and took part in the exhibitions of the Munich Secession. What the Scholle artists shared more than any single aesthetic was a desire to develop their own styles independently. Cucuel married Clara Lotte von Marcard in 1913, and they spent their summers in a villa on Lake Ammersee outside Munich.
Although the heyday of Impressionism had already passed in Europe, Cucuel developed his own vibrant Impressionist style during a period of working closely with Leo Putz. For several summers before Cucuel’s marriage, the two artists worked side-by-side in a garden at Hartmannsdorf Castle in Chiemgau, west of Munich. There, Cucuel began to paint with the highly keyed color and rich brushwork for which he is best known. Sunny genre scenes of leisure—boating, afternoon tea, sleeping, reading—in landscape settings dominate his work, but nudes and women in interiors settings are also common motifs. Cucuel often painted family members rather than professional models.
From 1928 to 1934, Cucuel spent winters in New York, but returned to Germany during the summer months. When World War Two broke out, Cucuel left Germany permanently and settled in Pasadena, California, where he lived a secluded life until his death in 1954. A member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Cucuel exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in Paris and at numerous other venues in Germany, England, and the United States.