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Science Museum Group celebrates Terence Cuneo in special exhibition for Hull UK City of Culture 2017

The remarkable career of British artist Terence Cuneo is to be celebrated in a new exhibition from the Science Museum Group as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. The exhibition will run at the University of Hull’s Brynmor Jones Library from 13 December. 

Widely-recognised as the world’s greatest railway artist, Cuneo was the official artist for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Originally taking inspiration from Cuneo’s painting of The Queen’s visit to Hull in 1957, the Science Museum Group has created Painting Power: The Art of Terence Cuneo.

Curated by the Science Museum Group’s Director Ian Blatchford and National Railway Museum Assistant Director and Head Curator Andrew McLean, the exhibition takes a fresh look at Cuneo through his unique portrayal of power.

Drawing on extraordinary loan material from across the UK to supplement the Science Museum Group’s already rich collection, the exhibition features his drawings for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War; his well–loved railway paintings and posters; depictions of industrial power and process; and his portrayal of a different type of power – the benign power of sovereign and state.

Science Museum Group Director and exhibition co-curator Ian Blatchford said: ‘This is one of the most important bodies of work of any 20th century British artist. The chance to celebrate Cuneo’s influential life and work as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, drawing on incredible and varied collections including the Science Museum Group’s own, is a real privilege.’

Professor Glenn Burgess, University of Hull Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Hull 2017 Board Member, said: ‘We are excited to be hosting the work of such a celebrated artist. This exhibition caps off a wonderful cultural year for the University of Hull, during which we have hosted works by some of the world’s most famous artists, and it takes us forward into 2018 as we build on the legacy of UK City of Culture. Our wonderful exhibitions have helped put the University firmly on the map as a place to see world class visual art and have attracted tens of thousands of visitors to our beautiful campus. We can’t wait to welcome this latest exhibition.’

During his life, Cuneo had a highly productive relationship with the Science Museum. He received several commissions from the museum, including his monumental depiction of Waterloo Station in 1967. The artwork, which currently takes pride of place in the National Railway Museum’s Station Hall, was painted in the Science Museum building and even features some members of museum staff, alongside Harold Wilson, Cuneo himself, with his wife and daughter, and one of his famous mice. From 1953 onwards, Cuneo painted a mouse into each of his works.

Central to the exhibition is the sense of Cuneo’s incredible attention to detail. He worked meticulously, often in adverse conditions, to capture scenes with amazing accuracy. A painting of Clapham Junction displayed in the exhibition was painted in several sessions from a vantage point high above the tracks with cinders from steam engines passing underneath landing on the still-drying canvas. His painting The Lying-in-State of Sir Winston Churchill was prepared with 30-second sketches every half an hour as the public waited for the changing of the Watch, the result retaining a sombre and arresting power.

This painting has been generously loaned to the exhibition by the Parliamentary Art Committee, and other kind lenders include the artist’s daughter Carole Cuneo, Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery and Hull Guildhall.

Painting Power: The Art of Terence Cuneo will run as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 at the Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull from 13 December 2017 to 15 April 2018.


For press enquiries, please contact Simon Thompson in the Science Museum Press Office on or 02079424357.

Note to editors

About Terence Cuneo
Terence Cuneo (1907–96) was an artist of exceptional skill, range and popularity. He is probably best known today as the leading painter of railways. But in almost 6000 paintings his work also embraced war and military history, state and public occasions, industry and technology, horses and wildlife, and portraiture. His parents were artists, and met while studying under Whistler in Paris, and his uncle Rinaldo was also an acclaimed painter. His father, Cyrus, was a widely admired illustrator, who sadly died from blood poisoning in 1916 when Terence was just nine years old. The Science Museum and the National Railway Museum, both members of the Science Museum Group, hold important Cuneo collections. In this exhibition they are shown together for the first time, along with many generous loans.

About Ian Blatchford
Ian Blatchford was appointed Director and Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group from 1 November 2010 and combined this with the role of Director of the Science Museum from December 2010. Previously Ian was Deputy Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London from December 2004, having joined the museum in April 2002 as Director of Finance and Resources. He started his career in the City, working at the Bank of England and the merchant bankers Barclays de Zoete Wedd, before joining the Arts Council, where he was Deputy Finance Director. He then joined the marketing and design agency Cricket Communications as Financial Controller before becoming Director of Finance at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1996. Ian read law at Mansfield College, Oxford and holds an MA in Renaissance studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Currently Ian is Chairman of the Governors of De Montfort University, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Member of the Athenaeum. He was awarded the Pushkin Medal in 2015. In April 2017 Ian became Chairman of the National Museum Directors’ Council.

About Andrew McLean
Andrew McLean is Assistant Director and Head Curator at the National Railway Museum (NRM). Andrew leads the Museum’s curatorial and conservation team who are responsible for looking after the world’s finest railway collection. Andrew also oversees research at the Museum and leads collaborations with its academic partners. Before joining the NRM, Andrew worked as a curator for the National Trust, as an archivist and head of collections at Mount Stuart and archivist with the Royal Bank of Scotland and United Distillers. He is currently a member of the Science Museum Group’s Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board and co-chair of the Railway Studies Forum (part of the Institute of Railway Studies) run jointly with the University of York.

About the Science Museum Group
The Science Museum Group is the world’s leading group of science museums, welcoming over five million visitors each year to five sites: the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford; and Locomotion in Shildon. We share the stories of innovations and people that shaped our world and are transforming the future, constantly reinterpreting our diverse collection. Standout objects include the record-breaking locomotive Flying Scotsman, Richard Arkwright’s textile machinery, Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE computer and the earliest surviving recording of British television. Our mission is to inspire futures - igniting curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds. Each year, our museums attract more than 600,000 visits by education groups, while our touring exhibition programme brings our creativity and scholarship to audiences across the globe. More information can be found at

About Hull UK City of Culture 2017
Hull UK City of Culture 2017 is a 365 day programme of cultural events and creativity inspired by the city and told to the world. Hull secured the title of UK City of Culture 2017 in November 2013. It is only the second city to hold the title and the first in England. Divided into four seasons, this nationally significant event draws on the distinctive spirit of the city and the artists, writers, directors, musicians, revolutionaries and thinkers that have contributed to the development of art and ideas. The Culture Company was set up to deliver the Hull 2017 programme and is an independent organisation with charitable status. It has raised £32 million, with over 70 partners supporting the project, including public bodies, trusts and foundations and local and national businesses. Key contributions are coming from: Host City – Hull City Council; Principal Partners - Arts Council England, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, KCOM, KWL, Spirit of 2012, Yorkshire Water and the University of Hull; Major Partners –Associated British Ports, Arco, BP, the British Council, British Film Institute, Green Port Hull, Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, MKM Building Supplies, P&O Ferries, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Sewell Group, Siemens, Smith & Nephew and Wykeland Group. The National Lottery has contributed more than £10m of this funding, making it the largest single funding body for Hull 2017. For information go to Follow us on Twitter @2017Hull, Instagram @2017hull, and Facebook HullCityofCulture.

About the University of Hull
Creativity lives and breathes at the University of Hull – always has done, always will. As a catalyst for creativity we are a keen supporter of arts and culture within our community and beyond – and now, as a principal partner of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 we are delighted to be an integral part of the celebrations. The University of Hull is playing a significant role in producing and hosting some of the spectacular events that form part of the Hull 2017 programme including, a British Museum Partnership Tour featuring drawings from some of art’s prominent masters from some of the all time greatest artists; a film festival dedicated to Oscar-winning Director Anthony Minghella who kick-started his career here; and an exhibition of BP Portrait Award Commissions from the National Portrait Gallery. Some of this activity is being held in our relaunched Middleton Hall which, following a £9.5million redevelopment, is now a world-class concert and arts venue. The Brynmor Jones Library, itself the subject of a recent £28.4m redevelopment and hailed as “inspirational” by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy at the official opening, is a core space for public exhibitions. University of Hull students, graduates and staff are at the heart of the programming with conferences, concerts and festivals showcasing their talent. In addition, as the exclusive academic partner we are an official partner in creativity and in helping to pave the way for future generations. For further information visit