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News > Esteemed OS > Terence Cuneo CVO OBE (1924 M)

Terence Cuneo CVO OBE (1924 M)

Terence was a prolific English painter noted for his scenes of railways, horses and military action.
21 Jul 2020
Esteemed OS

Terence Tenison Cuneo (1924 M) was born in London in 1907, the son of Cyrus Cuneo and Nell Tenison, artists who had met whilst studying with Whistler in Paris. He joined the School in 1919 as a boarder in the newly-built St Margaret’s. Leaving us in 1924, Cuneo went on to study at the Chelsea Polytechnic and the Slade School of Art, before working as an illustrator for magazines, books and periodicals including the London Illustrated News and Picture Post. In 1936 he started working in oils, continuing with his illustration work. Over the next few years, his work was mostly focused on commissions of military, ceremonial and engineering events, and he also served as a portraitist, especially of royalty.

During World War II, Cuneo served as a sapper but also worked for the War Artists Advisory Committee, providing illustrations of aircraft factories and wartime events. A significant point in his career came in 1953 when he was appointed as the official artist for the coronation of Elizabeth II. This was a mammoth undertaking involving attendance at eight rehearsals and an eight-hour stint on the day itself. Taking on the role significantly boosted his artistic repute though, becoming a household name in the process. Off the back of the coronation work, he received more commissions from industry, which ranged from the depiction of manufacturing and mineral extraction to road-building projects such as 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.

Revered by many of his peers and well-liked by the public, Cuneo was awarded the OBE and was a CVO. A one and a half times life-size bronze memorial statue of Cuneo, by Philip Jackson, stood in the main concourse at Waterloo Station in London, before being moved recently to the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham. In tribute to Cuneo’s trademark, the statue includes a hidden mouse peering from under a book by the artist’s feet, and another carved into the statue’s plinth near the ground. He died, aged 88, on 3 January 1996.

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