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Cyrus Cuneo

Terence Cuneo's father was Cyrus Cininnati Cuneo (1879-1916). He was born in the USA, the third child of seven in his family. His father Guiseppi (John) Cuneo had emigrated to the USA in 1848 from Liguria in Northern Italy, and his mother Annie Garibaldi had been born in Boston after her family had also emigrated from Italy the same year.

Cyrus Cuneo - Self Portrait

During his relatively short life he demonstrated two powerful attributes: the care and enrichment of the lives of his family and his occupational skills as an illustrator, and in his last few years also as a painter.

As a teenager he developed his boxing skills, as did his brother Rinaldo, and earned from boxing the funds for his first trip to Paris. He later provided money to assist his family who lost almost everything in the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake, and later paid for the whole of his family to come to Italy for a holiday, which appears to have been a great fun occasion for them all.

He travelled to Europe several times, visiting France, England and Italy. It was on his first visit to Paris at the age of 19 that he met Nell Tenison, whom he married on 20 October 1903 in London. Throughout 1901 and 1902, on his return from Paris with Nell, he had done many illustrations featuring events surrounding Queen Victoria's death and the Coronation of Edward VII.

He illustrated for many books and the major magazines of the day, notably the Illustrated London News, Strand Magazine, London Magazine, The Ladys Realm, The Pall Mall Magazine, Black and White, The Royal Magazine, The Windsor Magazine and The Pearsons Magazine. Both he and Terence worked under Herbert Strang in the illustration of many boys books and boys annuals. He did many portraits including that of King George V in 1910. He was commissioned to portray the assassination of the King of Portugal in 1906 by the ILN.

In 1910 he did a series of large murals for the Canadian Pacific Railway. These featured the Scottish influence on each of the Provinces of Canada to which the murals were presented. The murals were taken to Scotland and hung in the special Pavilion attached to the Glasgow Exhibition of 1911. In 1912 and 1913 he completed a number of other large murals for the CPR which were used as decorations in the Royal Liver Building. During 1912 he did a weekly feature for the Daily Mirror (well paid but onerous).

During the War, he turned to war subjects. It was from the proceeds of one canvas sale that he donated two ambulances to France. At the same time he also worked on his submission - a boxing theme - for the 1914 R A Exhibition.

Regretably much of Cyrus' work was lost by fire when the Canadian Pacific Railway offices were burned down during the Blitz in 1940.

Nell Tenison

Terence Cuneo's mother was Nell Marion Tenison (1867-1953). Nell was born in London, the only daughter, and the fifth child. Her father, Edward Ryan Tenison, was a doctor. Her mother was Frances Tèstelyn. One of the family's more famous relatives was Alfred Lord Tennyson. Nell wanted to become an artist, and became a proficient illustrator in her teenage years. Proceeds from this work enabled her to go to Paris in September 1899 to attend the Carlo Rossi Academy and study under James McNeil Whistler. This is where she met Cyrus Cuneo on her first day. At the end of her time there, she persuaded Cyrus to return with her to London, where they married in 1903. Her son Terence was born on 1 November 1907.

Cyrus' portrait of his wife Nell

Once back in London, Nell specialised in news illustrations until 1910 when she started colour book illustrations, as well as canvases for sale and exhibitions. She also submitted paintings (of her boys) for the 1914 R A Exhibition. Two delightful examples of her work are shown below.

"A Summer Flower Border"
"Undercliffe, Hayle"

Rinaldo Cuneo

Terence Cuneo's elder uncle was Rinaldo Cuneo (1877-1939). He was Cyrus Cuneo's brother and lived in San Francisco.

Rinaldo developed his own unique painting style. Two examples are shown below.

 

Egisto Cuneo

Terence Cuneo's younger uncle was Egisto Cuneo (1890-1972). He was the youngest in Cyrus Cuneo's family.

Egisto aged about 27

Egisto studied art in Europe, then on his return to the United States, settled in the Pearl River area of New York, where he painted much of his work. He married Ruth and had three children, Barbara, Doris and Gordon.

His three main themes were his family life, the countryside and subjects for the artists' group's Kit Kat Klub in New York, of which he was a officer. He went back to San Francisco in 1931 during the Great Depression, gave up painting as a career, and went into real estate.

"Untitled", (Barbara and Doris),
Pearl River, New York, c.1926

"Ruth Cuneo Bathing Son, Gordon", 1926

"Nude Model", Kit Kat Klub, New York, 1920

The Four Sisters

Cyrus Cuneo had four sisters. None were artists, but all were involved with music and the opera, and were founder members of the Tivoli Opera Company in San Francisco.

left to right
Evelina (1883), Erminia (1872), Annie (1852)(mother),
Clorinda (1881) and Clelia (1888)

   
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