Cedric Raymond Emanuel was born in 1906 in Gisborne, New Zealand before moving to Sydney at the age of four.
While still at school he started studying art at the Royal Art Society under Dattilo Rubbo and Julian Ashton, and also learned etching from Sydney Long. In 1925 he commenced working as a commercial (advertising) artist at the State Studios (working for the first year on trial and without pay) and in his spare time continued sketching, painting and etching. His first exhibition held in 1938 was very successful. In the same year he won the prize for etching in the NSW Sesquicentenary Art Competition.
Emanuel’s other love was sport. He was a regular swimmer, surfer, boxer, wrestler and footballer. He won the 1929 NSW State Amateur Middleweight Wrestling Championship but retired early from serious competitive sport out of concern for his hands.
During the Second World War he served as an officer with the RAAF. A part of his service was in New Guinea where he was an unofficial war artist.
He spent most of his life working as a freelance artist. His main focus was sketches in watercolour or ink depicting various aspects of Australia. His work was popularised on cards, scenic folios, calendars and wrapping paper. His work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria. In 1981 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to art.
Cedric Emanuel died in Sydney in 1995 at the age of 88, the day before a major collection of his works, Retrospectives went on display at the Jewish Museum in Darlinghurst. Emanuel Place in the Canberra suburb of Conder commemorates his name.