Leonard Hampden Booth

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1879, d.1974

The Awakening or Vanity

  • Purchased, 1974
  • Oil on canvas
  • 702 x 1334mm
  • 74/163
  • c. 1927

Described in a newspaper review as the most ambitious oil painting in the exhibition, The Awakening (Vanity) created something of a stir when it was shown at the Canterbury Society of Arts annual exhibition in 1929. Leonard Booth is better known for his graphic work, however he also produced a small number of paintings. He painted in an academic realist style, with careful attention to detail. This painting shows the strong influence of the Rokeby Venus by Diego Velasquez (1599 -1660).

Born in Christchurch, Booth took classes at the Canterbury College School of Art. In 1899 he was awarded both the CSA and the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts catalogue cover design prizes and the following year he began producing illustrations for the Sydney Bulletin. Booth was appointed to the staff of the Canterbury College School of Art in 1904. In 1933 he became ill and resigned from teaching. By the 1950s Booth was seldom painting but used his knowledge of art in his practice as a psychotherapist.