Emil Jean Kosa was a native of Paris who immigrated to the United States along with his family at the age of four. His family moved to Czechoslovakia in 1912 and it was there that Kosa began his artistic training.
He studied at the Prague Academy. Later, he would study in both Los Angeles and Paris but he is considered an American artist due to his importance to the California art scene.
Emil Jean Kosa was principally a painter of portraits, having painted over 75 such works on commission. He was also a gifted special effects artist and was one of the first such artists to work in the Hollywood film industry.
He had a career that spanned over three decades in film, working for 20th Century Fox Studios. He was also the recipient of a 1963 Academy Award for the film Cleopatra.
Kosa was a teacher, in addition to being a practicing artist. He taught at the Laguna School of Art and at the Otis and Chouinard Art Institutes.
His work is contained in the collections of several important institutions, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the New York Historical Society and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.