The Bank of England has announced plans to update its £20 bank note with an image of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) in 2020. The famed artist was born in Covent Garden, London, as the son of a barber and wig maker. He became renowned as one of the great masters of painting; his work was ahead of its time and exerted lasting influence on future movements in art, both in Europe and America.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney made the announcement last week at Turner Contemporary in Margate. The governor also unveiled the image of Turner that will be used on the note, which will retain its present purple color. The design will include J.M.W. Turner’s self-portrait, an 1799 oil painting on canvas from the Tate Collection that was accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest in 1856.
Included with Turner’s self-portrait will be The Fighting Temeraire, painted by Turner in 1839 and currently on display in the National Gallery. The painting was voted Britain’s greatest painting in a 2005 BBC poll and pays tribute to the HMS Temeraire. The quote, “Light is therefore colour,” is placed beneath the portrait, which derives from the artist’s 1818 Royal Academy lecture on light and shade, color and tone. The signature of J.M.W. Turner is taken from his will, now located at The National Archives.
The selection of Turner is the first time the Bank of England has used the more open and transparent character selection process announced in December 2013. The process began in early 2015 with the formation of the Banknote Character Advisory Committee, which as its first act selected the visual arts field. This was followed by a two-month nomination period in summer 2015, during which members of the public could suggest a figure from the visual arts. The Bank received 29,701 nominations covering 590 eligible characters. The committee, with input from public focus groups, then produced a shortlist that it discussed in detail with the governor, who made the final decision.
It was announced that this note will be printed on polymer substrate, as will the new £5 and £10 notes scheduled to enter circulation in September of this year and in 2017. The unveiling of the final design for the £5 will be unveiled on June 2, 2016. The three notes will comprise the new “G” series; the current series are those of the “E” series (£5 & £10) and the “F” series (£20 & £50).
The current £20 note was issued in 2007 and includes a portrait of Adam Smith (1723 – 1790), the famed economist and philosopher, on the reverse. All bank notes issued by the Bank of England since decimalization in 1971 bear a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse.
For more information on bank notes issued by the Bank of England, please visit their Web site.