He lived the early years of his life in the Netherlands as his father, Charles Paul Gruppe, painted with the Hague School of art and acted as a dealer for the Dutch painters in the United States. The family returned permanently to the States around 1913 when rumblings of World War I were brewing. All of Emile's siblings established themselves in the arts, Paulo as a cellist, Karl as a sculptor, and Virginia as a watercolorist. Of his children, Robert C. Gruppé, also a painter, maintains the Gruppé Gallery at Rocky Neck, Gloucester, Massachusetts, while Emilie Gruppe Alexander maintains the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery in Jericho, Vermont. Both galleries feature Emile's paintings among others.
Although Emile signed his works "Emile Gruppé" with an accent aigu, family members pronounce the name "groupie", as in enthusiastic fan, rather than in a French manner, according to Robert.
Gruppé studied at the National Academy in New York City and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. His artistic career began in 1915 but was briefly interrupted in 1917, when he spent a year in the United States Navy. He made his permanent studio in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and became a member of the Cape Ann school of artists.
Although Gruppe is best known for his variety of impressionistic landscapes, he also painted figures and portraits. His modern style was largely inherited from the French Impressionist Monet. "Lily Pads", date and location unknown, one of Gruppe's landscapes, attests to Monet's influence; it is similar to some of the paintings in Monet's Water Lilies series.
From 1940-1970, he ran the Gloucester School of Painting at Rocky Neck, on Smith Cove in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He was the teacher of other famous artists including oil painter Otis Cook of Rockport, Massachusetts, and his work was an influence on Bill Wray, Nathalie Nordstrand, Carl W. Illig, and other painters. He sometimes wintered in Naples, Florida, where he painted tropical scenes. He also wrote books for artists on brushwork, color and technique.
Gruppé's paintings are often seen in major auction galleries, such as Sotheby's, Christie's, and Skinners. Auction prices have risen steadily and exceed most Rockport School artists. Gruppé is among the most prominent of Rockport artists, a group that includes Anthony Thieme, Marguerite Pierson, Antonio Cirino, W. Lester Stevens, and Aldro Hibbard.
- American Artists in Photographic Portraits: From the Peter A. National Museum of American Art (U.S.), Nat'l Museum American Art, Joan Stahl - 1995 "EMILE ALBERT GRUPPE (1896-1978), painter. His paintings of sailboats and fishing vessels were often Dramatically composed. Gruppe was from a family of painters— his father, brother, sister and nephew were artists. He painted in and ..."
- Welcome to the Art of Charles C. Gruppé "Charles C. Gruppé comes from one of America's most respected families of artists. His grandfather, Charles Paul Gruppé (1860-1940), studied and painted in ..."