The Hermit



  • Description:

    • The inner gatefold shows the hermit of the tarot deck standing aloft a mountain. Below can be seen a long-haired figure gazing upwards, who appears to be making her way up the mountain. A landscape of castles and towns is visible in the background.

    • Or is it? For an explanation of the genius of the artist, watch these two excellent videos made by Richard Cass.   

  • The Artist:

    • Credited with the inner sleeve illustration on the IVth LP is Barrington Colby MoM.

    • His correct full name is Barrington Francis Coleby. Does MoM after his name stand for 'Man of Mystery'?

    • Barrington Coleby was born in 1945 and sadly passed away on 24th October 2014 in Ittigen, Switzerland after suffering from liver cancer for several months. He was working as a 'Straßenkünstler', a street artist working in pastels.

    • His monogram.

    • He also created the cover art for the 1995 Phil Thornton LP 'Shaman'. 

    • Posted by Tom Allen on Facebook

      • He had no real affection for his most famous work and considered it overrated. He was paid £80 to design the inner sleeve of the album. That doesn't sound like much but as Barry reminded me 80 quid in 1971 was still four times the average weekly wage.

      • Led Zeppelin paid him fairly.

      • What Barry was cheesed off with was the big money being made from his album sleeve image at major rock festivals etc .

      • The Hermit t-shirts were being shifted for big money by a business in California. They didn't pay Barry copyright for merchandise. Barry got a Brief to chase up the money, BIG money, he was owed.

      • It dragged on for years during the early 90's. Eventually Barry settled for an out of court sum - a few thousand - not nearly enough.

      • Barry once told me he considered The Hermit a curse. Which made us both laugh.


  • The Illustration:

    • The picture of the man in white on top of a mountain with a lantern, was drawn in pencil and gold paint and is titled, 'View in Half or Varying Light.' which means you can reflect the picture and see a new picture or find the hidden knowledge.

    • The original was auctioned in a sale of rock'n'roll art in 1981.

    • In the words of Jimmy Page. "The illustration on the inside was my idea. It is the Hermit character from the Tarot, a symbol of self-reliance and wisdom, and it was drawn by Barrington Colby (sic).

    • The illustration on the gatefold inner sleeve is clearly based on the “Rider Waite” depiction of this card. The design of the Rider Waite / Pamela Coleman Smith card was said to have been based on the painting “The light of the World” by William Holman Hunt. The card itself is usually referred to guidance, reflection and the search for inner or hidden knowledge. The colour yellow refers to intellect and knowledge and can be seen on the staff and light. The colour grey refers to humility. In the Kabbalah, the Hermit is associated with the path between Beauty (Tiphareth) and Mercy (Chesed) and is associated with the Hebrew letter “Yod”.


Barrington Coleby Artwork