Lost Figure of Led Zeppelin IV Cover Revealed: Mysterious Identity Uncovered in Newly Found Photograph
via Led Zeppelin Boots / YouTube
Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, an enduring classic, has been celebrated for its powerful music and enigmatic cover art for over five decades. Today, we finally unveil the mystery behind the painted figure on the album’s iconic front cover, known as ‘The Hermit.’ For years, fans and enthusiasts have speculated about the identity of this mysterious character, but the true story has remained shrouded in secrecy.
The legend goes that Robert Plant stumbled upon the painting in a second-hand store in Reading, Berkshire, during his journey to recording sessions at Headley Grange in Hampshire.
The enigmatic figure, a stooped man carrying a bundle of sticks on his back, has sparked numerous theories, from references to runes and tarot to connections with Victorian-era personalities like Henry “Brusher” Mills and ‘Old George’ Pickingill, an influential occultist. Jimmy Page, the band’s guitarist, has remained cryptic about the painting’s origin, stating,
“The cover was supposed to be something that was for other people to savor rather than for me to actually spell everything out.”
Recently, as part of research for an upcoming exhibition at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, an old photograph was unearthed, revealing the real face behind ‘The Hermit.’ Brian Edwards, a Led Zeppelin fan and Visiting Research Fellow, recognized the image immediately and made the groundbreaking discovery.
“Led Zeppelin created the soundtrack that has accompanied me since my teenage years,” said Edwards. “So I really hope the discovery of this Victorian photograph pleases and entertains Robert, Jimmy, and John Paul.”
The photograph, taken by Ernest Howard Farmer (1856-1944), a photography teacher, captures Lot Long, also known as Lot Longyear, a thatcher from Mere in southwest Wiltshire.
Lot, born in 1823 and passing away in 1893, embodies the stooped figure on the album cover. This newfound revelation sheds light on the album’s enigmatic artwork, connecting it to the rural landscapes and people of Victorian Wessex, captured by Farmer’s lens.
David Dawson, Director of the Wiltshire Museum, shared his insights, saying,
“Through the exhibition, we will show how Farmer captured the spirit of people, villages, and landscapes of Wiltshire and Dorset that were so much of a contrast to his life in London. It is fascinating to see how this theme of rural and urban contrasts was developed by Led Zeppelin and became the focus for this iconic album cover 70 years later.”
This discovery not only unveils the lost figure of Led Zeppelin IV but also enriches the album’s legacy, connecting it to the rich tapestry of Victorian history and the craftsmanship of thatchers in Wiltshire.