Turner self-portrait to be new face on UK £20 banknote

J.M.W. Turner, 'Self-portrait,' oil on canvas, circa 1799. Tate image

J.M.W. Turner, ‘Self-portrait,’ oil on canvas, circa 1799. Tate image

 

LONDON – Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Self-Portrait, circa 1799, from Tate’s world-famous Turner collection will be the new face to feature on the Bank of England’s £20 banknote.

Turner was chosen to feature on the note following the Bank of England’s decision that the next £20 would celebrate the visual arts. The artist was selected after a public nomination period and deliberation by the Banknote Character Advisory Committee.

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.

This summer, the painting will be reunited with works that have been on tour in Tate Britain’s 2014 exhibition “The EY Exhibition: Late Turner – Painting Set Free.” The Northern American tour was seen by nearly half a million visitors.

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.”

Turner was the outstanding British artist of the early 19th century and is widely regarded as the greatest British painter before the modern age. Born in 1775, the son of a London barber, he entered the Royal Academy Schools at the age of 14 in 1789 and soon emerged as a prodigy, becoming an associate of the RA in 1799 and full Academician in 1802. Late in life he served as the RA’s acting president. For many years he dominated the exhibitions, with works spanning landscape, history, modern life and the technologies of the Steam Age.

Turner was chosen to feature on the note following the Bank of England’s decision that the next £20 would celebrate the visual arts. The artist was selected after a public nomination period and deliberation by the Banknote Character Advisory Committee.