In the painted world of Arthur Boyd's imagining, "people are suspended between worlds, or states of being, between the pitiless forces of nature and the god-like grace of being human, between hostility and serenity, participation and voyeurism, love and lust and so on" (B. Pearce, "Arthur Boyd", Australian Painters of the Twentieth Century, Sydney, 2000, p.149).
Boyd moved with his family to London late in 1959. There, his exposure to the works of Piero di Cosimo and Titian broadened the artist's horizons, enabling him to tap into a wellspring of mythological and symbolic currents that would continue to shape his art for the rest of his life. This attraction to the mythological did not distract Boyd from the course he had set as an artist during the previous thirty years in Australia: rather, it would imbue much of his art from this time on with a dramatic darkness and resonance.
Bride with her Lover exemplifies the artist's new-found expressiveness, taking the theme of the Bride, which originated in the late 1950s as a symbol of his horror at the living conditions of Aboriginal Australians, and transforming her into a universal figure. In the case of Bride with her Lover, the universality of the Bride seems, as in a related work Double Nude II "to have grown out of the (ex-) half-caste lovers of 1960: bared of clothes as of the last vestiges of the original 'story' the united lovers have turned into a 'joined figure' - to use a Boydian title- suggestive perhaps of the bisexual oneness of the platonic myth, but stated with characteristic literalness. The spectrum of meaning may run from love-death, the re-entering of an eternal cycle, to narcissistic doom." (F. Philipp, Arthur Boyd, London, 1967, p.96).
The eternality of the scene is not only to be found in the symbiotic melding of the two central figures, but also their dissolution into the surrounding landscape. The groom's body is given substance only through his eyes, the fingers of his left hand, and a swathe of black curls, highlighted with sweeps of white paint, which tumble around his face. Otherwise, his body disappears into the forest floor, made insubstantial below and hidden from above by the bride's wedding gown and veil. Although given greater substance, the bride, too, melds into the forest, white swathes of paint in her veil turning to the blue of the background hill, her skirt dissolving into the trees on the left. A crow observes the couple from a tree, a reminder again of the eternal cycle of love and death.