Terence Tenison Cuneo was born in London on the 1st of November 1907, the son of Cyrus Cicinato Cuneo and Nell Marion Tenison. Cyrus and Nell met whilst studying in Pairs with James Abott McNeill Whistler (1834 -1903). Terence Cuneo completed his education at Sutton Valence School, Chelsea Polytechnic and the prestigious Slade School of Art, before working as an illustrator for magazines, books and periodicals.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, Cuneo enlisted with the Royal Engineers (RE). During the war Cuneo also worked for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee who’s aim it was to compile a comprehensive artistic and documentary history of Britain throughout the war. Cuneo provided illustrations of aircraft factories and wartime events. During this period he also met and befriended fellow artist Cyril Parfitt (1914 – 2011).
After the end of the Second World War, Cuneo continued his artistic practice with several commissions for illustrations of railways, bridges and locomotives. The highlight of the artist’s career was his appointment as the official artist for the Coronation of Elizabeth II. Cuneo was thrust onto the international artistic stage after this momentous appointment and received numerous commission, specifically commissions to depict manufacturing, mineral extraction and road building. Further success was achieved with his regimental and battle scene commissions, as well his portraits of H.M. the Queen and Field Marshal Montgomery.
In later years Cuneo introduced a unique stylistic element in his works. The inclusion of a small, often lifelike mouse, in his commissions soon became the artists’ trademark. The public became so enamored by the inclusion of the mouse, that they would specifically seek out his work to try and find the mouse. Cuneo would often hide the mouse close by a notable individuals feet, underneath or next to a basket, rock or flower.
Terence Cuneo’s was awarded and OBE in 1987 as well as a CVO in 1994. His works are held in numerous private and public institutions, including the Guildhall Art Gallery, Lloyd’s of London and the Royal Institution. His works have been used in a variety of manners, from book jackets to poster and jigsaws and even Royal Mail postage stamps. A one and a half time life size bronze memorial of Cuneo, by Philip Jackson, stands in the main concourse at Waterloo Station, London. Terence Cuneo died in Esher, Surrey on the 3rd of January 1996.