disclosed are aqueous emulsion coating compositions comprising a thermosetting acrylic resin, cellulose ester, melamine-formaldehyde crosslinking agent, a combination surfactant-curing agent and a suitable organic solvent. The cellulose ester is preferably cellulose acetate butyrate. The combination surfactant-curing agent is preferably ammonia- or amine-neutralized salts of sulfonated, ethoxylated hydrocarbons. The concentrate is emulsified in water and used as a coating composition. The coating has low solvent emission to the atmosphere when drying, provides a hard but flexible coating having excellent appearance, good durability, and rapid drying properties.