Raymond Booth botanical artworks make thousands

A variety of artworks by Raymond Booth (1929-2015), perhaps the greatest botanical artist and illustrator of his generation, have realised a combined hammer price of over £100,000 in a recent sale at North Yorkshire auction house Tennants.

Booth’s passion for the natural world shines through in the highly-detailed oil studies of flora and fauna included in the dedicated The Raymond Booth Studio Sale which comprised 90 lots of botanical paintings, animal studies and landscapes depicting the woods and fields around his home in Leeds. 

A shelf of plants by Raymond Booth

The still-lifes of plants provided some of the top lots of the day, demonstrating the artist’s deep understanding of the form of flora and selling well above pre-sale estimates. The top lot of the sale was A Shelf of Plants, which sold for £9,500, with October Flowers selling for £7,500, The Slipper Orchids selling for £4,500 and From the Vegetable Garden selling for £3,500. One of the top hammer prices was for the incredibly detailed, almost hyper realist A Branch of Apples, which drew strong interest to sell for £8,500 against an estimate of £1,200-1,800.  

Among the studies of animals in the sale, which showcased the artist’s great technical ability in representing the beauty of fur and plumage, were Study of a Magpie Alighting, which sold for £1,300; Three Studies of a Chaffinch, which sold for £900; Study of a Badger, sold for £1,500; and Study of a Hare, which fetched £950. Also on offer in the sale was a selection of landscapes depicting the woods around his home: Evening Landscape, Late May sold for £3,000, and Autumn, A Fox Resting Amongst the Fallen Leaves sold for £2,500.  

As a young child growing up in the leafy north Leeds suburb of Roundhay, his father instilled in him a lifelong love and respect of the British countryside and set him on a path to which he would dedicate his life. Accepted into Leeds College of Art in 1946, Booth put his studies on hold for two years whilst completed his National Service with the RAF in Egypt. Despite being criticised by his tutors for rejecting the modernist principles they were teaching, Booth stuck to his guns and worked in the traditional and precise manner to which he felt an affinity.

After graduating in 1953, he was struck down by tuberculosis, which he had contracted in Egypt; however, the long months of recovery afforded him the opportunity to hone his skills as a botanical artist. His career began in earnest when he submitted work to a Royal Horticultural Society exhibition in London and went on to exhibit at the Walker Galleries and the Fine Art Society. Booth spent his life tucked away in his home, exploring the woods and fields around Alwoodley, and growing numerous specimens in his garden. He rarely painted anything that he had not observed through at least one growing cycle.  

 A further small selection of works from the Studio will be sold in Tennants’ British, European and Sporting Art Sale on March 16, 2024.