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The Botanical World of Raymond Booth Online Exhibition

Raymond Booth was a painter, plantsman and naturalist. The Botanical World of Raymond Booth is a celebration of his intense interest in the study of plants. He tended them himself and would not paint a plant that he had not grown and observed through an entire season. For those who are unable to visit the exhibition in person, we are sharing these beautiful paintings online to enjoy from home.

The works in this exhibition are available for purchase, in aid of the Garden Museum and the wildlife charities Booth supported in his lifetime.

In 1946, aged sixteen, Raymond Booth won a scholarship to Leeds College of Art, where he received a traditional grounding in a variety of skills, most especially drawing. His time there was interrupted by National Service, which he spent in Egypt, where he contracted tuberculosis. This necessitated several months in a local sanatorium, which gave him time to pursue his studies, and as he said he was probably the only person who could say ‘thank God for TB’.

He was incredibly disciplined and, having decided in the 1950s to concentrate on the study of plants, a number of the resulting studies were exhibited at the Royal Horticultural Society. Here they attracted the attention of such distinguished buyers as Harold Fletcher, director of the RHS, who invited him on several occasions to stay and work at Wisley, Sir George Taylor, head of Kew Gardens, and Sir Eric Saville, director of forestry for the Crown Estates, as well as the second Lord Fairhaven whose collection of botanical paintings was later bequeathed to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Discoveries in Raymond’s Painting Room

Raymond Booth was a very shy and private man but despite this he built up an extraordinary network of contacts over the years. Botanists, plant collectors, and nurserymen in Britain, America and Japan were often in receipt of his letters with queries regarding the antecedents of particular species of plants, or information about the explorer-travelers who had discovered them and whose names they bore. He literally liked to get to the root of his subject.

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Bird and Animal Paintings

Although the exhibition The Botanical World of Raymond Booth is, as its title implies, concerned with his botanising and the scrupulously accurate studies of the plants he grew at his home on the outskirts of Leeds, two works – Woodland with Collared Doves and Mahonia Japonica – indicate his equal interest in the study of the birds and animals he observed both in Adel Woods and on the long walks he took through the Yorkshire countryside.

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