Emanuel Phillip Fox was born in Fitzroy, Victoria in 1865, the son of a photographer, Alexander Fox.
Qualified as a drawing teacher, he studied in Paris and Madrid before returning to Melbourne in 1891 to open the Melbourne Art School. During the 1890s he shipped paintings back to Europe for exhibition and, at the new Salon of 1894, he became the first Australian artist to receive a gold medal.
Upon the award of a joint commission for the National Gallery of Victoria, his travels took him back to England where he met and married an English artist, Ethel Carrick. Shortly afterwards Fox became an Associate of the Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts and, in 1910, the first Australian to be elected a full Sociétaire. He died in 1915.