The Bank of England announced that a new polymer £20 note featuring the face of famed English Romantic painter J. M. W. Turner, who is known for his depictions of dramatic landscapes and major historical events, entered circulation on Thursday. Turner’s portrait replaces an image of the economist Adam Smith, whose picture previously appeared on a paper edition of the note that had been in circulation since 2007.
According to a report by the BBC, the Bank of England has said that transparent and foil elements on the plastic note will make it more secure against forgery attempts. The Bank estimates that half the ATMs across the United Kingdom will be distributing the notes in about two weeks.
The note also features the phrase “Light is therefore colour,” a quote from a lecture Turner gave in 1818, along with a reproduction of the artist’s signature from his will. On the note, a rendering of Turner’s 1799 self-portrait, part of the collection of Tate Britain, appears before his 1839 painting The Fighting Temeraire, which is held in the collection of the National Gallery in London.
To mark this milestone for the artist, Tate Britain, which has the world’s largest collection of works by Turner, is now displaying the new £20 note alongside Turner’s self-portrait. The institution’s forthcoming exhibition “Turner’s Modern World,” opening October 28, will trace the artist’s engagement with transformations in industry, technology, and politics of the 19th century.
Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain, said in a statement that Turner “was certainly a radical artist in his time and he continues to inspire today,” adding that the artist was “innovative and controversial in his own day.”