Turner painting unveiled on Britain's new £20 note

Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney poses for a photograph with the new twenty pound note featuring late British painter JMW Turner

The Bank of England unveiled Britain's new £20 polymer banknote on Thursday, featuring artist J.M.W. Turner and his most cherished masterpiec.

The note includes Joseph Mallord William Turner's self-portrait and his 1838 oil painting "The Fighting Temeraire".

It will enter general circulation on February 2, 2020.

"As the new Turner £20 testifies, money can be a work of art in everyone's pocket," Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said.

The note was unveiled at the Turner Contemporary art gallery in the southeast English seaside resort of Margate.

The £20 note ($24.50, 22.20 euro) accounts for more than half the banknotes in circulation.

"Our banknotes celebrate the UK's heritage, salute its culture, and testify to the achievements of its most notable individuals," said Carney.

"Turner's painting was transformative, his influence spanned lifetimes, and his legacy endures today. The new £20 note celebrates Turner, his art and his legacy in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory."

Turner was selected by Britain's central bank following nominations from the public.

The Bank of England issues £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes. The latest series is being printed for the first time on polymer rather than paper.

They retain a regular layout, featuring a 1990 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and a historical figure on the reverse.

The new £5 and £10 notes have already been rolled out.

The £5 note features World War II prime minister Winston Churchill and novelist Jane Austen appears on the £10 note.

The bank claims the new £20 note is its most secure one yet and "very difficult to counterfeit", with features such as two clear windows, two-colour foil, a hologram, raised dots, an ultra-violet 20, tiny letters and a three-dimensional crown.

World War II code-breaker Alan Turing, a computer science pioneer, will appear on the new rarely-used £50 note, to enter circulation by the end of 2021.

Sterling is the first of the world's four most traded currencies -- ahead of the US dollar, the euro and the yen -- to switch to polymer.

Australia was the first country to issue a polymer banknote in 1988 and they are now used in several countries including Canada, Russia and New Zealand.