O'Neill was basically a self-taught artist. Apart from a few life classes which he attended at the Belfast College of Art, he painted at home in the evening while working as an electrician during the day. In 1943, three years after he had started to paint, he exhibited with Gerard Dillon in Dublin. Two years later he gave up his day job, mainly because of the encouragement he received from the Dublin dealer, Victor Waddington, who also assisted many other young artists, including George Campbell, Colin Middleton, and Jack Yeats. O'Neill was influenced by Cezanne and Rouault but after a trip to Paris in 1949 his work resembled that of Vlaminck and Utrillo, for a period. His work is expressionist and strongly romantic in character, and his subject matter generally draws from the universal themes of birth, life, love, as in the case of the wedding depicted in the present work, and death.