Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, has just announced that the next version of £20 banknote will be featured with J.M.W. Turner, the English master landscape painter. At the announcement at Turner Contemporary in Margate, the Governor also revealed the image of Turner that will be used on the note which will be issued by 2020.
As the selection process begun in early of 2015, Banknote Character Advisory Committee, which as its first act selected the visual arts field, received 29,701 nominations covering 590 eligible characters in visual art filed. The Committee, with input from public focus groups, then produced a shortlist which it discussed in detail with the Governor who made the final decision.
The Governor commented on the decision: “I am delighted to announce that J.M.W. Turner has been chosen to appear on the next £20 note. 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”
As shown in the concept image, the design on the reverse of the note will include:
- J.M.W. Turner’s self-portrait, painted c. 1799 and currently on display in the Tate Britain.
- One of Turner’s most eminent paintings 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.
- The quote – “Light is therefore colour” from an 1818 lecture by Turner referring to his innovative 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.
The new £20 note will enter circulation by 2020 and the full design of the note and its security features will be unveiled closer to it entering circulation.
“In short, money has not just economic value; it has cultural value.”
Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney
The brief story of the grand master: Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)
J.M.W Turner, born in Covent Garden, was the son of a barber and wig maker. When was just turn to 15, Turner first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1790 and continued to exhibit there throughout his life.
In 1799, at the youngest permitted age (24), Turner was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, and in 1802 he became a full Royal Academician. He was a prolific artist and produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 sketches and drawings. He travelled widely across the UK and Europe in search of inspiration for his paintings. Known as ‘the painter of light’, the artist was famous for his remarkable gift of conveying the subtlest shifts in colour and atmosphere, above all in his landscapes and seascape paintings.
His prominent artworks include Dutch Boats in a Gale (1801), The Fighting Temeraire (1839), The Slave Ship (1840), and Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway (1844).
In his personal life, Turner took a keen interest in architecture as well as landscape. He was close friends with the leading English architect Sir John Soane (who designed large parts of the original Bank of England building); and in 1807 Turner bought a plot in Twickenham where he designed and built a house where he lived with his father, Sandycombe Lodge.
Turner’s later work is widely considered to have been profoundly innovative. Many believe he altered the conventions of painting by shifting the viewer’s focus from the apparent subject matter to the fluctuating conditions of atmosphere in which it was seen: ultimately, solid objects like ships or buildings are given less importance, in his work, than the ever-changing and elemental realities of light and nature.
He had a keen interest in depicting nature – natural catastrophes, extreme weather, and the violent power of the sea. Art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) described Turner as the artist who could most ‘stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature’. His innovative focus on light was heavily influential on French Impressionist painters. In the 1880s a letter from painters including Monet, Degas, and Renoir acknowledged their debt to Turner – “A group of French painters united by the same aesthetic tendencies, struggling for ten years against convention and routine to bring art back to the scrupulously exact observation of nature…..as well as to the fugitive phenomenon of light, cannot forget that it has been preceded in this path by a great master of the English School, the illustrious Turner.”
His influence has extended across continents and through time to touch the artists of the modern period. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, dedicated to contemporary art, recognised Turner’s immense contribution to the language of modern, abstract painting by staging an exhibition of his work in 1966 – the first such show held to honour an artist who had died more than a century ago.
Turner bequeathed a huge range of his works to the British nation, including the largest ever donation of art to the National Gallery, with the intention that his works be viewed free-of-charge by the public. He even bought back some of this own artwork to include in the bequest. Much of this collection remains on show in the National Gallery and the Clore Gallery at the Tate Britain. In 2005, Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire (1839) was voted Britain’s “greatest painting” in a public poll organised by the BBC. His 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.
He was ahead of his time, and exerted lasting influence on future movements in art, both in Europe and America and passed his artistic legacy until this day.
Source: Bank of England