Frederick Casemero Terry

Birth/Family

Frederick Casemero Terry (1825-1869), artist and engraver, (watercolourist, illustrator, etcher and drawing teacher) was born in Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England.

He is the third son (fifth child) of Henry Terry, language teacher, of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, and his wife Isabella, née Clark.

Education/ Early Work

Educated in Switzerland, he arrived in Sydney in the early 1850s.

His earliest known extant work, is a watercolour view of ‘Point Piper, Sydney’ dated 10 April 1852, by which time he seems to have been resident in Sydney. He was certainly living there by August 1853, when he exhibited View of Sydney Harbour, Taken from Ball’s Head at the Victorian Fine Arts Society’s exhibition in Melbourne.

Other early works include ‘Sydney from the Old Point Piper Road’ (1852), ‘Sydney Cove from Fort Macquarie’ (1853).

Soon accepted as a thoroughly professional water-colour artist, he did some of his own engraving.

Exhibitions/Prizes/Work

 In 1854 the Sydney publisher John Sands commissioned a series of sketches from Terry, principally views of Sydney and the harbour. Thirty-eight were engraved on steel in London and issued at Sydney in 1855 as Landscape Scenery, Illustrating Sydney, Paramatta, Richmond, Maitland, Windsor and Port Jackson, New South Wales (also known as The Australian Keepsake).

 In 1854 he submitted a design for a medal to the New South Wales commissioners for the 1855 Paris Universal Exhibition. He won second prize of five guineas and a five-guinea bonus for the exquisite finish of his design. One of the medals as produced, with Terry’s design on the verso, is in the Mitchell Library.

In 1855 he was represented at the Paris exhibition with five other Australian artists. It was the first time that Australian paintings had hung in an important overseas display.

His watercolour View of Botany Bay was presented to the French government by the New South Wales government, after being exhibited in Sydney and Paris, and now hangs in the Marine Museum, Paris.

(The watercolour, now titled Tombeau du Père Receveur Botany Bay, is held at the Musée de la Marine, Paris; the tree-stump, returned to New South Wales in 1988 as a French bicentennial gift, is at the La Perouse Museum, Sydney.)

Some of Terry’s engravings were published by Sands and Kenny as the Australian Keepsake (1855). The volume contained scenes of ‘Port Jackson’, ‘Pinch Gut’, ‘The Gap, South Head’, Sydney’s streets, fruit markets and churches as well as country views of Richmond, Windsor and East and West Maitland.

In January 1857 Terry exhibited Pic-nic Party, Middle Harbour in the Further Exhibition of the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia, which was held in the Mechanics’ School of Arts, Sydney.

By 1860 he was recognized as one of the best colonial painters. About that year another small volume appeared as The Parramatta River Illustrated with six prints. By 1861 he had become examiner of a drawing class established at the Mechanics’ School of Arts in 1859.

Terry sought other ways of making money, including designing the covers for popular sheet-music. He executed the covers for The Maude Waltzes, ‘as played by the Band of the 77th Regiment’ and The Darling Point Polka. He later collaborated with Edmund Thomas to illustrate pieces in The Australian Musical Album for 1863.

In 1863, Terry moved his studio and residence to Alma Street, Newtown, and advertised that he would also conduct both day and evening drawing classes at the School of Arts, Balmain.

In August 1864, he issued a series of eight copperplate etchings illustrating various views of Sydney Harbour, described as having the appearance of pen-and-ink work.

The Bush Track was exhibited at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1867, the year Terry was appointed drawing master at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts. The following March the committee decided that Terry had resigned ‘in consequence of his non-attendance’ and took steps to find another teacher. By then he must have been ill as well as impoverished.

Name

Terry’s middle name is difficult to settle. An engraver’s error had resulted in Terry’s name being incorrectly recorded throughout as ‘Fleury’. The C in his name is referred to sometimes as Clark, from his mother’s family, and Charles was also used, but Terry seems to have preferred the exotic Casemero or Cassinis.

Paintings

Terry painted local watercolour views, such as King Street, Sydney Looking West, 1853 , and made occasional sketching tours to Newcastle.

His paintings were almost entirely views of Sydney and its environs and were painstaking in detail. Almost every work included people, animals, birds and some form of activity. Historically pictorial, they give an excellent record of life in the city.

Newspapers

Terry did a considerable amount of work for illustrated newspapers, journals and books during the 1850s, especially the Illustrated Sydney News. His view of the 1854 Australian Museum Exhibition showing in great detail the interior of the Museum Exhibition Hall with the exhibits in place was drawn after a daguerreotype by James Gow, lithographed by John Degotardi and published as a separate print. He was also a paid contributor to Melbourne Punch. In 1863 the Sydney Morning Herald reviewed a large watercolour by Terry of a picnic at Captain Cook’s landing place. A lengthy review in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1866 stated that Terry’s watercolour of Port Jackson in an approaching storm reflected credit on all colonial art and artists.

Death

Aged 44, Terry died on 10 August 1869 of effusion of the brain at his residence in Alma Street, Newtown. He was buried in the Camperdown cemetery. Despite Terry having dominated the exhibition scene throughout the 1850s and 1860s, he had found it hard to make a living. He had married Margaret Jane Reynolds (d.1862) on 14 July 1858.

His wife died of Consumption. (8th April 1862- Sydney Morning Herald PAGE 7 19TH April 1862)

Representation of the artist

His work is represented in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Mitchell and Dixson libraries, Sydney, and the National Library of Australia, Canberra.