Born in Bury in 1930, Lancashire, John Emanuel and his parents moved back to Barrow in Furness at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was immediately evacuated to a farm on Shap Fell.
Emanuel received no formal art training but after leaving school he served an apprenticeship in painting and decorating. In 1964 his interest in art deepened and he moved to Cornwall where he worked full-time, allowing him to continue painting. During this time John made close artist friends with Dick Gilbert and later John Wells, Denis Mitchell and Alexander Mackenzie. Since the early 1980s John has lived in St Ives, working from a Porthmeor Studio overlooking Porthmeor Beach.
Working in a variety of media, Emanuel favours the figure and the figure embraced by the landscape as his subject. His drawings exhibit a clear, classical form with a simplicity of line inspired by the contours of both body and Cornish landscape.