The Bank of England just unveiled the artist who will feature on the next £20 note (spoiler: it's not a woman)

 
Emma Haslett
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It's been a nail-biting few months while the Bank of England has um-ed and ah-ed over which artist should feature on its next banknote - and the results are in.

During a (relatively, for the Bank of England) glitzy launch ceremony in Margate, artist Tracey Emin unveiled the new £20 note - featuring JMW Turner.

The artist, best known for his depictions of the seascapes he saw from his Margate home - plus his most famous work, The Fighting Temeraire - will appear on the new £20 note when it is issued in 2020.

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The note features Turner himself, as well as the quote "light is therefore colour", from a lecture he gave in 1818, and the signature from his will, in which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation.

Today's grand unveiling follows a call by the Bank of England for artists to appear on the note. The criteria were merely that the people in question had to be dead (which was, in itself, awkward: shortlist by Ladbrokes named just one possible woman).


Turner as he will appear on the £20 note (Source: Bank of England)

Governor Mark Carney said the Bank had received 29,701 nominations covering 590 eligible characters - but added that Turner was "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."

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Of course, as any banknote enthusiast will tell you, when the new note enters circulation, Turner won't be the only thing making it remarkable. As with its £5 and £10 predecessors, it'll be printed on polymer. Now there's something to get excited about.

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