Castle's role in iconic 1980s album cover revealed

Power, Corruption and Lies record sleeve

The cover of Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order. Designed by Peter Saville. - Credit: Archant

The surprising role of Norwich Castle Museum in the making of one of the most iconic album covers of the 1980s has been revealed - by the man who designed it.

New Order's 1983 album Power, Corruption & Lies regularly features in lists by critics of the greatest albums of all time.

New Order closing Latitude 2016. Photo: Paul John Bayfield

New Order closing Latitude 2016. Photo: Paul John Bayfield

But the cover of the record has also become iconic, designed, like so much of the work by the Manchester band and their predecessors Joy Division, by Peter Saville.

Power, Corruption and Lies cover.

Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order. Designed by Peter Saville. - Credit: Archant

And Mr Saville has revealed, in a new Maxine Peake-narrated podcast about New Order and Joy Division, the role Norwich played in the battle for permission to use the painting which inspired that cover.

Speaking on the podcast Transmissions: The Definitive Story of New Order and Joy Division, Mr Saville explained how his choice to use a painting by Henri Fantin-Latour led him to Norwich Castle Museum.

A Basket of Roses by Henri Fantin-Latour.

A Basket of Roses by Henri Fantin-Latour. - Credit: The National Gallery London

Mr Saville told the podcast he had bought a postcard of the 19th Century French artist's painting from the National Gallery shop and the band had backed the idea.


You may also want to watch:


He said: "It turned out that we couldn't get a reproduction transparency from the National Gallery.

"Their reproduction transparency was damaged and the painting was on long loan and, as such, photography was forbidden by the auspices of the National Gallery. And so there was an impasse."

Norwich Castle Museum 

Norwich Castle Museum. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Most Read

The painting was on long loan to Norwich Castle Museum, but Tony Wilson, the boss of New Order's label Factory Records, intervened.

Mr Saville said Mr Wilson, who was played by Steve Coogan in the film 24 Hour Party People, got Sir Michael Levey, the then director of the National Gallery, on the phone.

Mr Saville said: "Tony said to Sir Michael Levey: 'With all due respect, sir, who actually owns this painting?' And Levey's answer was: 'The people of Great Britain own it, Mr Wilson'."

"And Tony said: 'Well, the people want it'. At which point, Levey conceded and said: 'If you put it like that, I'm sure we can make an exception in this case'."

"And, so, I was granted special dispensation to go and photograph it, but this notion that 'the people want it', I just love that."

In 2010, the album cover featured on a Royal Mail stamp celebrating iconic album covers.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter