Cevat Dereli was born in Rize and enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in 1915, becoming the student of Hikmet Onat and İbrahim Çallı. In 1922 he was one of the painters who founded the New Society of Painting. After graduating in 1923 he won a scholarship to study in Paris, where he attended the studio of Paul-Albert Laurens at the Julian Academy in 1925-1927. In 1928, after returning from Paris, he was appointed painting teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts, and the same year became a founding member of the Association of Independent Painters and Sculptors. In 1932 he resigned from his post at the academy and until 1939 worked as a graphic artsit doing anatomical drawings at the Faculty of Medicine. In 1981 he was awarded the Atatürk Art Award at the exhibition held in 1981 to commemorate the centenary of Atatürk's death.