Emanuel was born in Bury, Lancashire, and though he did an apprenticeship in decorating and signwriting never formally studied art.  He began to paint in his thirties, though not to exhibit, and in 1964 came to St Ives.  He acknowledges the help at that time from Alexander MACKENZIE, Denis MITCHELL and John Clayworth Spencer WELLS among others, and took up membership in both the NSA (being Chairman 1977-78) and the Penwith Society of Artists.

He is primarily known for his nude studies, many of his long-time partner Janet AXTEN. The Tate St Ives commissioned him to create an etching for the opening of the gallery in 1993. His work is shown widely in mixed shows and solo exhibitions in the UK and abroad. 

John works from the Porthmeor Studios, St Ives (2013).


In 2023 he was appointed as an honorary member of STISA.




Painter in oils and mixed media, printmaking

works and access

Works incl: Classical Head; Classical Head I; Figure Study of Janet; Figure with Lamp 1 (1986); Brown Nude; Two Figures Holding; Seated Nude; Reclining Figure; The Island Porthmeor and lunch (2006) - all displayed in the 'golden age' exhibition 2008

Access to works: Parnham House, Beaminster; Cornwall Council Schools Collection

Local: Penlee House: Romantic Figure


NAG; Penwith Society of Arts

Wills Lane Gallery, St Ives 1975, 1976

A Century of Art in Cornwall 1889-1989, CCC centenary exh, Truro

2008: Great Atlantic Arwenack Street Gallery, 'golden age of cornish art'

2009: 'Painters of West Cornwall', Group Exhibition in Central London, Eleven and a Half Art Gallery

2010: Mixed Christmas Show, Stoneman Gallery, Chapel Street, Penzance: Janet Reading

2015: Open Studios Cornwall

2020: John Emanuel - A Collection of Works, Belgrave St Ives (5-27 July)

2021: John Emanuel - Paintings and Monoprints, Belgrave St Ives (10-31 July)


NSA 1972-3 list, (Chairman 1977-78)

Penwith Society of Artists

STISA (Hon. membership 2023)


Buckman (2006) Dictionary of Artists in Britain since 1945

Great Atlantic Publications & Clark Art Ltd (2008) the golden age of cornish art

Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery (photo)

McLeod, Alister J (1973) Newlyn Society of Artists 1895-1973 (NAG 12 page brochure)

Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership

RWE (1992) Artists from Cornwall, Bristol

Whybrow (1994) Studio Artists in their Workplace St Ives;

Whybrow (2013) St Ives: The Story of Porthmeor Studios;