Terence Tenison Cuneo hailed from a family of artists and gained his formal art education at the Slade School of Art. Upon graduation, he earned jobs illustrating for books, magazines and other periodicals. With the onset of World War II, Cuneo got a position with the War Artist Advisory Committee, painting aircraft factories and various wartime events. The stunning detail with which he translated the brute strength of planes, tanks and machinery on canvas earned him commissions after the war for various train, roadway and bridge subjects.
It wasn’t until Cuneo’s appointment as the official artist of Queen Elizabeth II coronation in 1953 that the artist gained world-wide attention. He continued to paint the Queen well into her reign, along with many other historical figures including Sir Winston Churchill.
The most intriguing and whimsical aspect of Cuneo’s paintings is the inclusion of a tiny mouse hidden somewhere on the canvas. Whether cartoonish or realistic, the mouse is a trademark he added to many of his works, including those of even his most famous subjects.
Cuneo earned many honors during his adventurous career, including being inducted into the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the Royal Victorian Order (CVO). In commemoration of his extraordinary talent, a life-size bronze memorial statue of Cuneo resides in the main concourse at Waterloo Station in London, complete with a tiny mouse hiding at his feet. His alma mater, the Slade Art School, has created a scholarship in his name.
Select Artist’s Museums:
Guidehall Art Gallery, London
Royal Institution, London
The Mouse and His Master: The Life and Work of Terence Cuneo, 1977, New Cavendish Books
British Artists 1880-1940, 1990, Antique Collectors Club