Important Australian + International Fine Art
2 May 2012


born 1940

oil on canvas

41.0 x 46.0 cm

signed and dated verso: BOOTH 2001

$25,000 - 30,000
Sold for $28,800 (inc. BP) in Auction 25 - 2 May 2012, Sydney

Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne
Private collection, Melbourne


Peter Booth: Small Paintings, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, July – August 2001, cat. 6 (label attached verso)

Catalogue text

It was in the winter of 1989 that Booth first started painting what were to become his celebrated 'snow paintings'. In part informed by his childhood years in Sheffield in England's industrial north, the works also represented a transition in Booth's oeuvre, which he likens to the journey in Milton's epic sequence of poems, Paradise Lost (1667) to Paradise Regained (1671). More specifically, the series was inspired by Booth's re-reading of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth with its themes of moral and political corruption reflected in unnatural violations of the natural realm.

Like so many of Booth's snow-bound landscapes, Untitled 2001 presents almost as a stage set for a performance whose commencement is either imminent or perhaps only just ended. Empty of figures, the snow paintings are overwhelmed by a profound atmosphere of silence. Populated only by the crumbled vestiges of rocky walls and buildings, our painting alludes both to past devastation but also importantly to the possibility of future renewal. As Jason Smith notes ...for Booth, the winter landscape is one of serenity and the promise of renewal. It reminds us of the resilience of nature and is a metaphor for human endurance against the physical and psychological trails of life.'1

The painting's compositional structure thwarts our gaze, containing no obvious point of entry or specific focal point. There are no roads, paths or rivers through which we can navigate the strangeness of these taciturn landscapes. Here the way forward seems impossibly blocked by the tumbled, monolithic blocks of a fallen city, the remains blanketed with thick, white snow. In this muffled space, summoned forth from the artist's dreams and imagination, we sense that Booth has concealed some essential truth which may be penetrated through close examination.

1. Smith, J., Peter Booth: Human / Nature, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2003, pp. 14-15