New £20 note featuring painter JMW Turner unveiled

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and Artist, Tracey Emin unveil the new twenty pound note at the Turner Contemporary gallery on October 10, 2019 in Margate, England. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Bank of England has officially unveiled the new £20 note featuring artist JMW Turner.

The new polymer £20 note was unveiled by Bank of England governor Mark Carney on Thursday at an event in seaside town Margate, home to the Turner Contemporary art gallery and a source of inspiration for Turner’s paintings.

Turner, one of Britain’s most famous landscape painters, was announced as the new face of the £20 note in 2016. Carney said at the time that Turner was “perhaps the single most influential British artist of all time.” The Turner Prize for contemporary art is named after the 19th century artist and his paintings hang in many of Britain’s most famous galleries.

Features of the new note include:

  • A see-through window with blue and gold foil depicting Margate lighthouse and the Turner Contemporary gallery.

  • JMW Turner’s self-portrait, which was painted around 1799 and is currently on display in Tate Britain.

  • Turner’s painting the Fighting Temeraire, which depicts the HMS Temeraire in its last days after serving in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The painting hangs in the National Gallery and was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a 2005.

  • The quote “Light is therefore colour” from an 1818 lecture by Turner.

  • Turner’s signature from his will.

The new note, which was first announced in 2015, will enter circulation in February 2020. It is the first £20 to be produced on polymer and joins the new £5 and £10 notes in using the material. A new polymer £50 note, featuring codebreaker Alan Turing, is set to launch in 2021.

READ MORE: New face of £50 note is Imitation Game code breaker Alan Turing

Polymer is more durable than paper and allows manufacturers to develop more sophisticated anti-counterfeiting features. New features also include:

  • A see-through window in the bottom corner of the note, inspired by Tintern Abbey.

  • A metallic hologram that changes between the word ‘Twenty’ and ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted.

  • The Queen’s portrait in a see-through window with ‘£20 Bank of England’ printed twice around the edge.

  • A silver foil patch with a 3D image of the coronation crown.

  • A purple foil patch containing the letter ‘T’ and based on the staircase at the Tate Britain.

Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier, said: “Our polymer notes are much harder to counterfeit and, with the £20 being our most common note, this marks a big step forward in our fight against counterfeiting. I hope the public will look forward to spending their new Turner £20s from February next year.”

The new £20 note, featuring holograms, gold foil, and see through windows. Photo: Bank of England

The public will still be able to spend paper £20 notes once the new polymer Turner note is launched. The Bank of England plans to gradually withdraw the old notes from circulation as retailers deposit them and the central bank will give the public a six-month warning when the notes are set to officially stop being legal tender.

Turner replaces economist Adam Smith as the face of the £20 note. The other new faces on the polymer notes are Jane Austen on the £10 note, introduced in 2017, and Winston Churchill on the £5 note, introduced in 2016.

“These individuals have advanced British thought, demonstrated exceptional leadership, and more generally helped to shape this diverse society and forge our common values,” Carney said in a speech in Margate on Thursday.

“Money serves as a collective memory for a country and its people; it has cultural value as well as economic. As the new Turner £20 testifies, money can be a work of art in everyone’s pocket.”