Cucuel was born as the son of a newspaper publisher in San Francisco. By the age of fourteen he had already attended the local Academy of Arts. Still a teenager he was employed as an illustrator by the newspaper ‘The Examiner’. At seventeen years, Cucuel was sent to Paris, where he entered the Académie Julian and the Académie Colarossi. He then went on to study at the Académie des Beaux Arts.
In 1896 Cucuel returned to the USA and settled in New York. After six months, during which he worked again as a newspaper illustrator, Cucuel returned to Paris and devoted himself to painting. He spent two years in Paris, and then travelled through France and Italy to study the old masters. In Germany, Cucuel went to Berlin, where he mainly worked as an illustrator.
In 1907 Cucuel moved to Munich, the city that would become his home for a long time. There, he joined the artists’ group ‘Schölle’, which was dominated by the outstanding artistic figure Leo Putz (1869-1940). The group took care of him in artistic matters. Furthermore Cucuel took part in the exhibitions of the Secession in Munich. In 1912 the artist successfully exhibited in Paris. His paintings resemble the French Impressionists both in colour and motive.
From 1914 to 1918 Cucuel lived in Holzhausen at the Ammersee and later had studios in Munich and Starnberg. From 1928 he spent his summers at the Ammersee and lived in New York during the winters, until 1934. Owing to the beginning of World War II Cucuel finally left Germany in 1939. He settled in the Californian town Pasadena, where he led a secluded life until his death in 1954.