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Terence Cuneo
British, (1907-1996)

Cuneo was born in London, the son of Cyrus and Nell Cuneo, artists who met while studying with Whistler in Paris. Terence Cuneo studied at the Chelsea Polytechnic and the Slade School of Art, before working as an illustrator for magazines, books and periodicals. In 1936 he started working in oils, continuing with his illustration work. During World War II he served as a sapper but also worked for the War Artists Advisors Committee, providing illustrations of aircraft factories and wartime events.

After the war, Cuneo was commissioned to produce a series of works illustrating railways, bridges and locomotives. A significant point in his career was his appointment as official artist for the Coronation of Elizabeth II, which brought his name before the public world-wide. He received more commissions from industry, which included depicting manufacturing, mineral extraction and road building, including the M1. He was most famous for his passion for engineering subjects, particularly locomotives and the railway as a whole. But in fact Cuneo painted over a wide range, from big game in Africa to landscapes. Further success was achieved in his regimental commissions, battle scenes and incidents as well as portraits (including H.M. the Queen, and Field Marshal Montgomery).

Many of these works include a small mouse (sometimes lifelike, sometimes cartoon-like), his trademark. They can be difficult to detect, and many people enjoy scouring his paintings to find one. Even some of his portraits of the famous contain a mouse.

His work has been used in every conceivable manner, from book jackets and model railway catalogues to posters and jigsaws and even Royal Mail postage stamps. It can be found in many museums and galleries, including Guildhall Art Gallery and the Royal Institution.

Revered by many of his peers and well-liked by the public, Cuneo was awarded the OBE and was a CVO. A 1.5 times life size bronze memorial statue of Cuneo, by Philip Jackson, stands in the main concourse at Waterloo Station in London. It was commissioned by the Terence Cuneo Memorial Trust (established March 2002) to create a permanent memorial to the artist, together with an annual prize at the Slade School of Art, given by the Trust. In tribute to Cuneo’s trademark, the statue includes a hidden mouse peering from under a book by the artist’s feet.

He was most famous for his passion for engineering subjects, particularly locomotives and the railway as a whole.

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