The design of the new £20 banknote featuring JMW Turner has been unveiled – and will celebrate the artist and his legacy “in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory”, according to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.
The new polymer note, which contains sophisticated security features, will be issued for the first time on February 20 2020, as the notes leave cash centres and enter general circulation.
Mr Carney said: “As the new Turner £20 testifies, money can be a work of art in everyone’s pocket.”
The new note depicts Turner’s celebrated painting the Fighting Temeraire – a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
It was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a 2005 poll run by BBC Radio 4.
Other features of the new banknote include the quote: “Light is therefore colour”, taken from an 1818 lecture by Turner referring to the use of light, shade, colour and tone in his pictures.
Turner’s signature from his will, the document with which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation, also appears on the new banknote.
The existing £20 note is the most common of the Bank’s notes in circulation, and also the most forged, making up around 88% of detected banknote forgeries in the first half of this year according to Bank of England statistics.
The Bank said the new note is “the most secure Bank of England banknote yet”.
It incorporates two windows and a two-colour foil to thwart counterfeiters.
Like the polymer £10, the new £20 note will contain a tactile feature to help vision impaired people identify the denomination.
The new note will join the Sir Winston Churchill £5 and the Jane Austen £10.
A new £50 note, featuring Alan Turing, will follow in 2021.
People can carry on spending the current paper £20 notes, featuring the economist Adam Smith for now, and the Bank said that notice will be given six months ahead of legal tender status of the paper £20 being withdrawn.
The design of the new note was launched at Turner Contemporary in Margate.
Mr Carney said: “Turner’s legacy endures today through his influence on art for over two centuries, to the prize that bears his name to celebrate British contemporary art, to this magnificent gallery, the Turner Contemporary.
“Soon Turner’s work will feature on another two billion works of art – the new £20 notes from the Bank of England.”
Mr Carney said: “Turner’s contribution to art extends well beyond his favourite stretch of shoreline.
“Turner’s painting was transformative, his influence spanned lifetimes, and his legacy endures today.
“The new £20 note celebrates Turner, his art and his legacy in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory.”
Cash use has been in decline in recent years, and Mr Carney was asked if the new £20 would be the last.
He said: “We will produce cash as long as the British public want to use cash.”
Mr Carney said many people still use cash for budgeting and everyday purchases and continued: “This note, because it’s stronger and safer and cleaner, they’ll last for up to 15 years, so we have to get it right, that’s why we’ve added all these features.
“And we had to make it look good and we think it looks great, thanks to Turner.”
The new £20 note will be the first to feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier.
She said: “The new £20 is an important part of our commitment to providing banknotes that people can use with confidence.
“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.”
Other features of the new banknote include:
– A large see-through window with a blue and gold foil on the front depicting Margate lighthouse and Turner Contemporary. The foil is silver on the back. The shape of the large window is based on the shape of the fountains in Trafalgar Square.
– A smaller see-through window in the bottom corner of the note, inspired by Tintern Abbey.
– Turner’s self-portrait, painted in around 1799 which is on display in Tate Britain.
– A metallic hologram which changes between the word ‘Twenty’ and ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted.
– The Queen’s portrait in the 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.
Further details about the new £20 note are available at www.thenew20.co.uk.
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry, said: “As the most common note in circulation, small firms will be pleased to see the money they are working with is going to become safer and more secure.
“This will mean that small businesses can spend time and money on other issues away from fraud.”