Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Frederick Casemero Terry (1825–1869)

by Merle Peters

This article was published:

Frederick Casemero Terry (1825-1869), artist and engraver, was born at Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England, third son of Henry Terry, language teacher, of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, and his wife Isabella, née Clark. Educated in Switzerland, he arrived in Sydney in the early 1850s: his picture, 'Point Piper, Sydney', is dated 10 April 1852. Other early works include 'Sydney from the Old Point Piper Road' (1852), 'Sydney Cove from Fort Macquarie' (1853), 'The Nobbies from Newcastle' and 'Newcastle from the Nobby' (1853). Soon accepted as a thoroughly professional water-colour artist, he did some of his own engraving. 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 was voted him 'out of regard for the exquisite finish of his design'. The same year his painting of the grave of Fr Receveur, the French naturalist with Comte Jean-François La Pérouse, was presented to the French government by the New South Wales government. It now hangs in the Marine Museum, Paris.

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; an erratum slip noted that an engraver's error had resulted in Terry's name being incorrectly recorded throughout as 'Fleury'. In 1855 he was represented at the Paris exhibition with five other Australian artists including Conrad Martens, George French Angas and Adelaide Ironside. It was the first time Australian paintings had hung in an important overseas display. In January 1857 Terry was invited to exhibit in the Further Exhibition of the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia, which was presided over by Sir Charles Nicholson and held in the Mechanics' School of Arts, Sydney. Among the other artists showing were Samuel Thomas Gill and Marshall Claxton.

Terry's output was consistent and ample; 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 by Joseph Fowles. In the early 1860s 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. 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. A contemporary, O. R. Campbell, noted that his pictures 'are the best productions of the kind that I have seen in Sydney — clear and characteristic in drawing and beautifully composed … they would be greatly prized in London'.

Aged 44, Terry died on 10 August 1869 of effusion of the brain and was buried in the Camperdown cemetery. He had married Margaret Jane Reynolds (d.1866) on 14 July 1858 and was survived by their son Henry. He had found it hard to make a living and owed his landlord £65. All his 'goods chattels credits and effects', valued for probate at £45, went to a creditor. 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.

Select Bibliography

  • Illustrated Sydney News, 20 May 1854
  • F. C. Terry acquisition file (National Library of Australia)
  • manuscript catalogue (State Library of New South Wales)
  • printed catalogue (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Merle Peters, 'Terry, Frederick Casemero (1825–1869)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England


10 August, 1869 (aged ~ 44)
New South Wales, Australia

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