Emanuel Phillips Fox was born in Melbourne and, encouraged by his family, studied at the National Gallery of Victoria School, with further studies in Paris and England. On his return to Australia in 1892, he formed the Melbourne Art School with Tudor St. J;jeorge Tucker, teaching plein air and Impressionist methods. In 1901 he travelled again to Europe, where he was the first Australian painter to be elected a member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts.
Returning to Australia in 1913, Fox was much admired by the young local artists for the brightness of his French-influenced paintings. Like the Impressionists, he had a love of sunlight and colour; he is known for his liberal use of white, while his subjects are usually family groups, al fresco scenes and dappled nudes.
Fox and his artist wife Ethel Carrick visited Northern Africa in 1911 on one of their painting trips, and MOROCCAN VISTA, undated, depicts a view of street stalls and boats in the harbour at Morocco. Qualities of light and colour were always paramount in Fox's work. Here the thick paint has been applied in broad brushstrokes, almost monochromatic in its ochre tints with just a couple of spots of bright red and blue. Dark shadows under the stall canopies contrast with the vibrant sunlight. The STUDY FOR ART STUDENTS, c.1895, is dedicated to Cristina Asquith Baker, the central figure, and also shows Fox's cousin Etta Phillips seated in the centre, with Ina Gregory on the right. They were students at his school, and are seen in their paint-spattered smocks at work in the untidy studio. Although the painting portrays elegant young nineteenth-century ladies at one of their leisurely pursuits, the prosaic subject - stained aprons and cluttered studio - offended Melbourne taste when the work was first exhibited in 1895.
Fox often worked on a number of studies for a major work, and this piece shows the deliberate composition of what seems an informal, unposed piece, with the Impressionist influence seen in the slightly flattened forms and figures cut off by the edges of the canvas. The main work, which is one the most important examples of Australian Impressionism, hangs in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.