JMW Turner’s Self-Portrait (c.1799) will be the new face to feature on the Bank of England’s £20 banknote, it has been announced.
The image was chosen following the Bank of England’s decision that the next £20 would celebrate the visual arts, and the choice – which was voted for by public poll for the first time – was announced at Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate.
The painting is from the Tate’s world-famous Turner collection: Tate Britain is the home of Turner and its collection includes more than 300 oil paintings by the celebrated British artist. Self-Portrait is currently on display in Tate Britain’s Clore Gallery, alongside Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing The Alps (exhibited 1812) and Dido and Aeneas (exhibited 1814), and depicts a youthful JMW Turner.
The self-portrait appears to date from around 1799 when Turner was about 24 years old. It was possibly intended to mark an important moment in his career, his election as an Associate of the Royal Academy. Despite his relative youth, Turner had already been greeted as an extraordinary new talent. He had been described in the newspapers as an artist who “seems thoroughly to understand the mode of adjusting and applying his various materials’ and ‘their effect in oil or on paper is equally sublime”.
Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain, said: “As the home of Turner, we at Tate Britain are extremely pleased that the artist is the new face of the £20 banknote. We hope that will encourage visitors to see his self-portrait and other outstanding paintings in person in our Clore Gallery. Turner’s popularity is unrivalled – he was voted the nation’s favourite artist last year – and now everyone can celebrate Turner’s great contribution to art on a daily basis.”