JMW Turner to appear on new £20 banknote


Artist JMW Turner will appear on the next £20 banknote, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has announced.

The new £20 note will enter circulation by 2020 and as with the next £5 and £10 notes will be printed on polymer.

The selection of Turner is the first time the Bank of England has used the more open and transparent public nomination programme.

The new polymer £5 note will be unveiled at Blenheim Palace on June 2 and enter circulation in September.

The Governor announced the decision at Turner Contemporary in Margate, where he said: "Turner is perhaps the single most influential British artist of all time.

"His work was transformative, bridging the classical and modern worlds. His influence spanned his lifetime and is still apparent today. Turner bequeathed this painting to the nation, an example of his important contribution to British society."

In May 2015, it was announced that the next £20 note would celebrate the visual arts and members of the public were asked to nominate characters from within that field.

Nominations could include artists, sculptors, printmakers, designers, craftspeople, ceramicists, architects, fashion designers, photographers and filmmakers, whose work has shaped British thought, innovation, leadership, values and society.

Between May and June 2015, nearly 30,000 people nominated 590 eligible visual artists. The list of nominations included Branwell Bronte, Beryl Cook, Francis Bacon and William Blake.

In 2013, new guidelines set out by the Bank said the choice of historical figures depicted on banknotes will have to reflect ''diversity and inclusivity'' while not upsetting people by being ''divisive''.

The Bank set out principles for character selection as well as a new process drawing more heavily on input from the public and independent experts.

It followed an outcry over the decision to replace prison reformer Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note with Sir Winston Churchill, which would have meant that, apart from the Queen, there would be no female faces on the UK's paper money. 

Thousands signed a petition in protest. It was subsequently announced that novelist Jane Austen would be the face of the new £10 note from 2017. 

Born in Covent Garden, JMW Turner was the son of a barber and wig maker, who became renowned as one of the "great masters" of painting. 

He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1790, aged just 15. In 1799, at the youngest permitted age of 24, Turner was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and in 1802 he became a full Royal Academician. Turner produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 sketches and drawings. 

He became known as "the painter of light" because of his gift for conveying the subtlest shifts in colour and atmosphere, above all in his landscapes and seascape paintings. His key works include Dutch Boats in a Gale, 1801 and The Fighting Temeraire, 1839.

The Bank said Turner's legacy and influence continues today with, for example, the Turner Prize which has celebrated British artists since 1984, and the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, which displays a wide range of modern art influenced by Turner.

The design on the reverse of the £20 note will include Turner's self-portrait and The Fighting Temeraire - a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 - as well as the quote: "Light is therefore colour," from an 1818 lecture by Turner referring to his use of light, shade, colour and tone in his pictures.

The new note will also show Turner's signature from his will, the document with which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation.

Speaking at the announcement, artist Tracey Emin said: "It's so amazing that an artist has been chosen for the £20 note and an artist who was a wild maverick.

"It's wonderful that Britain's creative side is being honoured in this way and of course I am especially happy because it is Turner and he loved Margate."

The current £20 note has carried a picture of economist Adam Smith since 2007.

The Bank has said it is moving to polymer banknotes as they are cleaner, more secure and more durable than paper banknotes and provide greater resilience against counterfeiting.

Making the announcement, Mr Carney said of Joseph Mallord William Turner: "He was undeniably prolific, producing more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 sketches and drawings.

"His work will now feature on another two billion works of art - our new £20 notes."