Perhaps the most famous of Booth's paintings are his apocalyptic landscapes. Since these images started to appear in his work in the 1970s they have become a unique and influential vision in australian Art. Booth's powerful works are a combination of his observations of the world around him and an investigation of his complex, inner realm of imagination. Memory plays a major role in shaping the symbolic images and narratives of his work, as does his profound interest in literature. Booth has commented that his later snow landscapes, and his shift away from the monstrous, tormented figures of his earlier works, parallel the journey in Milton's epic poems Paradise Lost (1667) to Paradise Regained (1671). In Winter Landscape with Burning City a large book lies in the foreground, a symbolic reference to the artists own journey.
Booth was born in Sheffield, Britain, the steel production centre of the world where his father worked in the steel mills that dominated the landscape. In his catalogue essay for the Peter Booth exhibition, Human Nature, at the National Gallery of Victoria, curator Jason Smith notes that "Sheffield is ... one of the primary sources for Booth's depiction of winter landscapes." Winter Landscape with Burning City is informed by the artist's memories of the steel mill furnaces lighting up the night with flames, the dark winter skies streaked with their warm light forming a theatrical backdrop for the littered industrial landscape.