New £20 banknote featuring artist JMW Turner enters circulation

20 February 2020, 08:08

The new £20 note enters circulation from Thursday
The new £20 note enters circulation from Thursday. Picture: Bank of England

By Megan White

A £20 banknote featuring artist JMW Turner will appear in ATMs and tills from today as it enters circulation.

The new polymer note, which is the Bank of England’s most secure yet, will replace the paper £20 note featuring economist Adam Smith.

Anti-counterfeit measures include two see-through windows, one of which depicts Margate lighthouse and Turner Contemporary gallery, and a two colour foil.

The Bank expects half of all ATMs across the UK to be dispensing polymer £20 banknotes in just two weeks' time.

The son of a barber and a wig maker, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) became renowned as one of the great masters of painting.

He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1790 aged just 15.

Turner produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 sketches and drawings.

He became known as "the painter of light" and had a keen interest in depicting nature such as extreme weather conditions and the violent power of the sea.

Other features on the new note include Turner's self-portrait, painted around 1799 and currently on display in Tate Britain, ametallic hologram which changes between the word "twenty" and "pounds" when the note is tilted, and a purple foil patch containing the letter "T" and based on the staircase at Tate Britain.

The paper £20 notes can still be used as normal and the Bank will give six months' notice ahead of their legal tender status being withdrawn.

There are over two billion £20 notes in circulation.

The note will join the Sir Winston Churchill £5 and the Jane Austen £10 in the Bank of England's first series of polymer notes.

A new polymer £50 featuring Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing will be issued next year.

Speaking at Tate Britain, which houses the Turner Bequest, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said: "Our banknotes celebrate the UK's extraordinarily rich and diverse heritage and highlight the contributions of its greatest citizens. Turner's art was transformative.

"I am delighted that the work of arguably the single most influential British artist of all time will now appear on another two billion works of art - the new £20 notes that people can start using today."

The Bank has said that polymer notes last longer than paper notes and remain in better condition.