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Photograph - David Bowie

David Bowie

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (photographed)

  • Date:

    1974 (photographed)
    2009 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    O'Neill, Terry (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    gelatin silver print

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 977

Terry O'Neill was born in the East End of London in 1938 and enjoyed early success as a jazz musician before undertaking National Service then joining the Daily Sketch as a news photographer (1960-63). From 1963 he worked for titles including Vogue, Paris Match and Rolling Stone as a fashion and portrait photographer and is often considered a peer of other 'Swinging London' working-class photographers including David Bailey, Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy.

This compelling image was produced as a potential cover for Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs' album in 1974 (the final artwork was produced by Belgian illustrator Guy Peelaert). It complements Brian Duffy's striking portrait shot used for the previous album 'Aladdin Sane' (1973) and demonstrates some continuities in styling (particularly the distinctive 'Ziggy' haircut). Bowie was a provocative and forward-thinking artist and the period between 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust...' (1972) and 'Diamond Dogs' is considered one of his most creative periods in which the design of his stage-persona offered new models for the promotion of the pop star, influenced by contemporary performance art and underground culture in London and New York. O'Neill's shoot is a transitional one in terms of Bowie's career. It captures the sexually-ambiguous aura associated with Ziggy, and also anticipates the edgier energy that under-pinned Bowie's period of working in the US and Berlin (1974-79). Though it wasn't used for its intended purpose, the photograph shows the range of Bowie's creative networks and the decision-making process that contributed to the making of album sleeves.

Physical description

A black and white photograph of David Bowie seated, wearing a hat and heeled boots. An open book lies face-down at his feet. Bowie holds onto a large white dog standing on its hind legs.

Place of Origin

London (photographed)


1974 (photographed)
2009 (printed)


O'Neill, Terry (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

gelatin silver print

Marks and inscriptions

artist's signature
ink, lower RH corner

edition number, '19/50'
ink, lower LH corner


Height: 50.4 cm paper, Width: 40.8 cm paper, Height: 45.3 cm image, Width: 34.3 cm image

Descriptive line

Photograph of David Bowie, by Terry O'Neill, London, 1974



Subjects depicted



Photographs; Animals and Wildlife; Music


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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