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Alberto Arellano

Identity Of Led Zeppelin IV Artwork Revealed: A Victorian Photograph Of A Wiltshire Thatcher

The art work that appeared on the Led Zeppelin IV album. This art was found by a University of West England fellow who recognized the picture. (ERNEST FARMER/WILTSHIRE MUSEUM)

The identity of the art of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album was identified as a late-Victorian black and white photograph of a Wiltshire thatcher named Lot Long.

The art work that appeared on the Led Zeppelin IV album. This art was found by a University of West England fellow who recognized the picture. (ERNEST FARMER/WILTSHIRE MUSEUM) 

It was discovered by a research fellow in Southwest England named Brian Edwards.

Edwards, a visiting fellow at the University of West England, came across the painting while searching for a Victorian era photo.

The photo was instantly recognized where it was a man with a log beard with branches behind his back.

“Led Zeppelin created the soundtrack that has accompanied me since my teenage years, so I really hope the discovery of this Victorian photograph pleases and entertains Robert, Jimmy and John Paul,” said Edwards about the photo he recognized reminiscing his younger years being a Led Zeppelin fan.

The cover was previously believed to be a painting on the album cover.

The photograph belonged to Ernest Farmer, whose work appeared on Led Zeppelin’s album.

Led Zeppelin’s fourth album was commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV and was released on November 8, 1971.

The album is best known for its song “Stairway to Heaven”.

Led Zeppelin IV was praise by critics including “Rolling Stone”, “Billboard”, and “The Village Voice” calling it a masterpiece in heavy rock. 

The album sold more than 37 million copies around the world. The album’s cover artworks was absent of any indication of the band’s name or title.

“The ‘Wiltshire Thatcher: a photographic journey through Victorian Wessex’ exhibition will celebrate the work of Ernest Farmer,” said David Dawson, director of the Wiltshire Museum “Who today is little known but was a leading figure in the development of photography as an art form.”

Farmer’s photograph is scheduled to be featured at an exhibition at the Wiltshire Museum in Spring 2024.

“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,” said Dawson further commenting about the photograph. “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.”

Farmer was the first head of school of photography prior to being named Regent Street Polytechnic, which is now part of the University of Westminster.

Led Zeppelin’s record sleeve depicted a re-colored version of the image, which was later found by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page in an antique shop in Pangbourne, England.


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