He grew and painted many rare species of Japanese plants
1929 - Born and raised in the area of Roundhay. a suburb in north east Leeds. His father was a member of the local police force.
It might reasonably be surmised that as a child he probably made good use of Roundhay Park which is the second largest urban park in Europe, comprising more than 700 acres (2.8 km2) of parkland, lakes and woodland used by numerous species of wildlife
1946 - he won a scholarship to Leeds College of Art at the
age of seventeen.
However his art studies were interrupted by a requirement to do his mandatory two years of National Service. He spent most of his two years with the RAF in Egypt - guarding the Suez Canal. After which he returned to college to complete his studies.
1953 - He graduated from Leeds College of Art
Shortly after left college, it was found that he had contracted tuberculosis while with the RAF. He was sent to a sanatorium to recuperate and while there he had ample time to develop further his skills in painting. This was also the time when he developed his first botanical drawings.
After he left the sanatorium he was minded to try and exhibit his work. He sent several of his drawings to a botanical art exhibition in London organised by the Royal Horticultural Society. He has won several awards from the RHS for his work.
His work was noted by a number of distinguished plants people including Dr Harold Fletcher, a botanist and Director of the RHS Gardens at Wisley. The actor Ernest Thesiger (cousin of the explorer Wilfrid Thesiger) encouraged Jack Naimaster, then a director of Walker’s Galleries at 118 New Bond Street, to go and view them.
He started to exhibit his art with Walker's Galleries until they closed.
1962 - He began exhibiting at at the Fine
1975 - first one man show at the Fine Art Society
In later years he divided his time between botanical and wildlife painting and the cultivation of rare and exotic plants.
1982: Raymond Booth: Artist, Naturalist exhibition at the Fine Art Society
1991: Raymond Booth: Painter & Plantman exhibition at the Fine Art Society
An intensely private man, Raymond Booth was immersed in his own world of poetry, plant cultivation, and the natural history of the few square miles around Adel Woods on the outskirts of his native Leeds.
1992 - he produced his magnum opus Japonica Magnifica, in conjunction with Don Elick. (see Publications below)
1996 - major exhibition of Japonica Magnifica at the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh featuring 85 original paintings for the book - see Japonica Magnifica: Paintings by Raymond Booth (1 April – 31 May 1996)
2002 - a major retrospective exhibition at Leeds City Art Gallery which he and his wife were persuaded to attend.
2007 - The Fine Art Society presented an exhibition devoted to the subject closest to Raymond’s heart: In Adel Woods,
2011 - an exhibition was held at the Fine Art Society to celebrate his 50 years as a gallery artist - during which time he only visited the gallery once!
July 2015 - he died at his home in Alwoodley - his death was announced on 22 July.
2015 - A memorial exhibition (see below) was held at the Fine Art Society to celebrate both his life, his work and his extraordinary career.
He also has a short biography in Contemporary Botanical Artists (1996) by Shirley Sherwood
Nothing delighted him more than the freedom to put a few basic requirements in a backpack and explore the countryside, sleeping under hedgerows or in woodland, and developing his intimacy with bird and animal life. – Peyton Skipwith
The process of making his paintings and the continually deepening knowledge of his subject that this intensive, almost microscopic, focus produces are all that interest him.
A lot of his paintings were of British Mammals and bird life. However he rarely left his native Yorkshire.
However he also devoted himself to painting plants, particularly those which could be grown in gardens or a greenhouse and those suitable for background vegetation for his naturalistic animal studies. He was said to observe a plant through one or more growing cycles before taking up his brush.
His painting room at home in Alwoodley – an 'inner sanctuary' was sacrosanct. Nobody was allowed to enter it - not even his parents or later on his wife, Jean.
In terms of media, unusually for a botanical artist, he prefers to paint using oil on sized paper.
His botanical paintings took four main forms
He was also fond of sometimes giving his plant portraits a coloured background in much the same way as used for portraits of people.
He also produced a number of graphite drawings.
Japonica Magnifica is his 'magnum opus'. This book portrays the flora of Japan, some in the context of the Japanese landscape where it grows.
The project to develop the book grew out of twelve years of correspondence with Don Elick, an American plant collector. He had lived in Japan for more than 40 years. Both men loved Japanese flora and landscape. Booth grew and then painted 85 paintings to illustrate the book , published in 1992.
The book was published by Alan Sutton Publishing in 1992. The detailed botanical studies for this work were exhibited in London and Leeds as well as touring a number of museum venues in the United States.
Elick provided many of the specimens for the artist, who grew them in his garden in Yorkshire, England, in order to study them and draw them from life. Each plant portrait was true to scale. Booth's botanical paintings were remarkably accurate, including depictions of Japanese plant habitats that the artist himself had never seen.
Hunt Exhibition: Japonica Magnifica: Paintings by Raymond Booth 1 April - 31 May 1996
This very large book portrays the flora of Japan and is a collaboration between Don Elick, an American who lives in Japan, and Raymond Booth.
The book includes a map of Japan in the front and 64 colour plates of plants flowers - some of which are double page spreads.
The deluxe edition of the book, which contained two specially commissioned plates signed by the artist, was available from The Fine Art Society.
Hardcover: 144 pages inc. 32 full-page full-colour plates of paintings of flowers.
Size: Elephant folio
Publisher First Edition: Japonica Magnifica was published simultaneously in 1992 by
Publisher: varies depending on date of publication
BUY THIS BOOK (expensive)
Japonica Magnifica from Amazon UK
Japonica Magnifica from Amazon.com
The fans of Raymond Booth's preference for meticulous precision and lush renderings in oil of the flowers and plants in his garden is fulfilled by this book.
This is the the first comprehensive collection of Booth's particular type of botanical painting - which is presented in an oversized format with complete fidelity to the original works of art.
It includes exact-scale renderings of Jasminum nudiflorum and Fritillaria tubiformis
Publisher: Callaway, New York
Publication Date: 2000
Dimensions: 29.5 x 2.5 x 41.5 cm
Average Customer Rating out of 5 stars:
An Artist's Garden: [the Paintings of Raymond Booth] from Amazon UK
Raymond Booth: An Artist's Garden from Amazon.com
Skipwith notes in the introduction that, atypically for botanical illustration, Booth's work is "unabashedly pictoral"; it most often places its subjects (flowers, trees, birds, squirrels, owls, etc.) within recognisably forest-like settings, which may bear some resemblance to the artist's garden in Leeds. Publisher's Weekly - about an Artist's Garden
Books by other authors
A painting of an Antirrhinum (orange yellow) was included in Flower Drawings by David Scrase 1997 Cambridge University Press
He contributed three paintings as illustrations for The Camellia by Beryl Leslie Urquhart, published in 1956
Fine Art Society
He started exhibiting with FAS in 1962 and was represented by them for over 50 years and is still a "gallery artist". He held his first one-man exhibition at the Fine Art Society in 1975. In total he had eight one-man shows at The Fine Art Society in 1975, 1982, 1991, 1993, 2000, 2007, 2011 - and then three shows posthumously in 2015, 2017
1984 - a retrospective exhibition of his work was presented at several galleries in his native Yorkshire.
Leeds City Art Gallery
Abbot & Holder
Watts Contemporary Gallery
The Flora Japonica Exhibitions
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh - Inverleith House
The exhibition, sponsored by PaineWebber in cooperation with The Fine Art Society of London, opened at
Raymond Booth’s artwork is included in many public and private collections in Europe, America, Japan
and the Middle East.
His work is held in the following collections:
I'm going to develop a timeline of paintings - over time. These will include links or annotations to where they can be seen online or in a catalogue or a book if that is possible
A fusion of technical skill and a keen eye, with a deep passion for nature and solitude, Booth’s genius rested in the intimate relationship that existed between himself and his subjects.
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