Terence Cuneo (1907-1996)
'EVENING STAR AT FULL STEAM'
Signed and dated October 1963 l.l., oil on canvas
76 x 102cm
Exhibited: Terence Cuneo exhibition, The Mall Galleries, 1988.
Sold with a photograph of the artist with John Haworth admiring the painting.
To quote from 'James Haworth and Company A Family in Print': p. 176/177:
'Terence Cuneo ‘making a point’ on his original painting ‘Evening Star’, one of twelve of his paintings exhibited at the 50th Year Pandrol Ltd Anniversary Dinner, held in London October 1987. Pandrol Ltd are a renowned specialist manufacturer of railway track parts, who have reproduced many of Cuneo’s railway subjects for their company calendar.
Evening Star’ commissioned from Terence Cuneo by James Haworth Ltd for their 1964 company calendar, was issued later as a fine art print and proved to be one of the most successful ever published by our company. The original painting of this last steam engine, built for British Railways, is regarded by many as one of the very best engine subjects ever painted. There is also a story about our ‘Evening Star’ print and the little mouse, as Cuneo’s trademark, which appears in practically every one of his paintings.
This story is best told by the artist himself:
'EVENING STAR' or, the mouse that nearly caused an international incident. Here is the story, and it’s a true one.'
When this painting was reproduced as an art print by the firm of James Howarth, a copy was purchased by an Officer on a Union Castle liner and was hanging in his cabin when the liner docked at Cape Town. The Captain of the ship happened to bring a friend of his, a member of a famous Cavalry Regiment, to this man’s cabin for some reason or other. The soldier immediately noticed the print on the wall. ‘That’s one of Cuneo’s, isn’t it?’ he asked. ‘You know, the feller who always paints a mouse in his pictures’. The other two regarded the soldier with some surprise. Neither of them had ever heard of me, nor had they any knowledge of rodents being inserted into oil paintings. Three able bodied men then approached the print and searched it thoroughly. Not one of them could find the mouse!
Finally the Captain said, ‘Look here, get a cable off to this chap Haworth and tell him for God’s sake to let us know where the bloody thing is!’ John Haworth senior duly received this graphic request. He thought for a while and then decided that ‘Up telegraph pole first right’, constituted both a clear and inexpensive reply. He promptly dispatched this message back to the liner.
It arrived in Cape Town, but instead of being delivered to the ship, it was sent direct to the South African equivalent of MI5, as a highly suspicious message, probably in code. Whereupon, two members of the Security Force stomped up the gangway of the British ship and demanded to see the Captain. That good man was in his cabin sitting at his desk. The cable was thrust before him. Would you kindly explain this, Sir’. The Captain took the paper. He goggled at it. He had long forgotten the incident and words meant nothing to him. ‘Up telegraph pole first right’. What in hell did that mean? He hadn’t a notion. The Captain rose up, his face reddening in anger, when suddenly he caught sight of the word Haworth and he remembered. ‘Gentlemen’, he announced with great solemnity, ‘Follow me’. He led his visitors down through the ship and finally stopped at his officer’s cabin. He flung wide the door and with the air of a conjuror producing a rabbit from a hat, pointed dramatically at the print. ‘There you are, gentlemen – Up telegraph pole first right – and THERE’S THE MOUSE!’.
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Sold for £65,000
Under UV light there are no signs of significant damage or restoration.
Stretcher visible from certain angles top and bottom.
Canvas is a little loose, a slight wave at corners.
A couple of tiny flakes of paint loss above left telegraph pole, close to edge, possibly from a knock.
A light scratch leading from right telegraph pole to edge.
A couple of pinholes in bottom left corner.
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Auction: Fine Interiors (including Books and Maps) - Two Day Sale, 10th Mar, 2020
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