Terence John McCaw (1913 – 1978)

Terence McCaw’s paintings contributed to the Cape Impressionist tradition, with his landscape paintings showing distinct influences by some of its early proponents like Pieter Wenning.

McCaw idolised the work of Paul Cézanne, and his work was strongly influenced by the French Post-Impressionist vision, usually displaying a light paint application with sensitive, linear brushstrokes suggesting detail. McCaw’s technique was based on the Impressionist principles advocated by Cézanne, which required the modelling of form to be replaced by colour modulation. This is achieved by juxtaposing patches of colour, typically applied in parallel brushstrokes, and leads to a simplification of form and a more spontaneous handling of the medium.

After his studies at the Wits Technical Art School in the early 1930’s, McCaw studied at Heatherly’s School and the Central School of Art in London in 1935, with his contemporaries, Freida Lock and Gregoire Boonzaier. The trio participated in exhibitions with the London Group, and, once back in Cape Town, became founding members of the New Group in 1937. They campaigned for a fresh vision in the South African art world that would embrace the new European movements and influences.

Terence McCaw settled in Hout Bay after serving as a war artist during the Second World War, and continued to paint in the Cape Impressionist idiom. His accomplished paintings of the Cape harbours with fishing boats, the Malay Quarter, and his Boland landscapes have continued to find popular acclaim amongst collectors of this genre.


‘Art & Artists of South Africa’ by Esmé Berman
‘Paris and South African Artists 1850 – 1965’ by Emma Bedford
‘150 South African Paintings – Past and Present’ Lucy Alexander & Evelyn Cohen

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