New £20 note with JMW Turner (“The Fighting Temeraire”)

Turner_selfportraitArtist JMW Turner and his painting The Fighting Temeraire (that appears in Skyfall)  willfeature on the new design of the Bank of England’s £20 from 2020. The English Romantic artist was chosen from a list of public nominations – the first time the Bank has asked who should appear on a specific banknote. The note, to be made of polymer, will eventually replace the current £20 note featuring the economist Adam Smith.

Sir Winston Churchill on the £5 note who will replace campaigner Elizabeth Fry from this September, Turner on the £20 note, and Matthew Boulton and James Watt remain on the £50 note.

The painting in Skyfall

The painting most promintenly shown and talked about is The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up, 1838, by English artist J.M.W. Turner.

This oil painting painting is one of the most famous works by Turner. It depicts one of the last second-rate ships of the line which played a distinguished role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805,  being towed towards its final berth in Rotherhithe south east London in 1838 to be broken up for scrap.

The Fighting Temeraire was voted the greatest painting in a British art gallery. The painting gets some great screentime in Skyfall.

The painting hangs in Room 34 the National Gallery in London and that’s exactly where James Bond (Daniel Craig) is looking at it while waiting for Q (Ben Whishaw). Q, after sitting down next to Bond, talks about the painting:

Q: It always makes me feel a little melancholy. Grand old war ship, being ignominiously hauled away to scrap… The inevitability of time, don’t you think? What do you see?

James Bond: A bloody big ship.

Q’s remark is one of the many subtle references to the question if Bond should still exist, which we can interpret in our own world (should the Bond film franchise still exist) but also in the story of the film (is agent 007 still up to the task within MI6, and is MI6 itself still needed or capable in today’s world?).

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James Bond contemplating the paint.

Selection process

The design was unveiled in Margate
The Bank received 29,701 nominations from the public after it announced it wanted to celebrate an artist on the not.
The list was considered by a Bank committee. Three visual arts experts  were also consulted.
The committee drew up a shortlist of five – Turner, filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, sculptor Barbara Hepworth, painter William Hogarth, and designer Josiah Wedgwood.
The final decision was made by the Bank’s governor, Mark Carney.

Going plastic

The new £20 note will be the third Bank of England banknote to be made from polymer, following the new £5 note and new £10 note.
The theory is that the plastic notes will be more sturdy, such as surviving a spin in the washing machine, and be more resistant to counterfeiting.
Only the £50 note will remain a paper Bank of England banknote.

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Location of the painting in Room 34 at the National Gallery
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James Bond contemplating the picture.

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