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At the beginning of 1975
Arthur BOYD return to Australia from England,
lived for a year on the banks of the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales. The
paintings in this collection were conceived during that year.
During the 70's Arthur BOYD exhibited Shoalhaven series small paintings at
and Fischer Fine Art London. Fischer went on to become one of the founders of Malborough Fine Art
in 1946. These
oils are now rare highly priced gems, keenly sought after by Australian and
international collectors on the World Art market.
1978, Arthur BOYD permanently settled at his home on the
Over the years, Arthur BOYD befriended the formidable landscape, painting scenes
of the Shoalhaven River and the surrounding bushland. In a second part of BOYD's
painting career from
the late 70’s, BOYD landscape works were based mostly on the Shoalhaven River.
This resulted in a significant series of paintings that are expression of Arthur
BOYD love for Australian landscape.
paintings are not simply landscapes but a fusion of Australian history and the
key in the artist development. The ABC TV & BBC TV co-produced the documentary
film, A Man of Two Worlds, based on BOYD's life and work.
1993, Arthur BOYD gave to the people of Australia the family properties
comprising 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) at
BOYD began, with the ongoing stimulus of Porter's poetry, to introduce
the moral narrative to the set.
At the same time, in 1976, BOYD work on the Shoalhaven landscape, with its riverbank and
reflecting pools under Pulpit Rock.
In 1984 Arthur and Yvonne BOYD left London to Australia and, more specifically,
to their property Bundanon,
Shoalhaven River. However
BOYD's joy at
re-discovering the Australian landscape was tempered with a distressing
awareness of the careless treatment of the natural environment by reckless and
BOYD was a practical environmentalist who, together with
Sidney Nolan, had fought to stop sand-dredging near Riversdale on the Shoalhaven
The artist is recorded as saying:
"I think Australians have been apt to believe
that because this was such a vast land, they couldn't make a mark on it.
mark has been made and if it continues at this rate, it will soon be too
(Arthur BOYD, cited in J McKenzie, Arthur BOYD Art & Life,
London, 2000, p.169).
Thus while the subject matter of
Bather series followed a long established western art historical tradition, BOYD's rendering of this theme was imbued with both personal and contemporary
environmental concerns, as Hoff noted in the following extract:
"BOYD in bathers, which had not occupied him since the early fifties
was revived by Cézanne's Bathers in the London, National Gallery. The
idyllic and secluded beach, far from the city, which Conder and Streeton had
made popular, is replaced by the beach in the technological age. Cars and
speedboats, raucous cries of a hedonistic mob break the calm of nature. What
BOYD owes to Cézanne is the considered build-up of the figures into a frieze
The stunning effect of the huge painting rests on the contrast between hot
tints, large forms of a crowd and the beauty of
the natural world. Above the garish human turmoil rises the impressive, timeless
riverbank. Luminous cumulus clouds scud across the deep blue sky. "
Elwyn Lynn, "the work is the epitome of the creative continuity
of Arthur BOYD's art."
(U Hoff, op.cit, p.81). Curtsey: Sotheby's catalogue, 23
PHOTO: Aniela Kos
and ARTHUR BOYD,
Aniela won the trust of one of the most important Australian
Series of paintings have always
been recognized as outstanding contributions to the Australian
art of their time.
Transcending social issues and cultural
commentary, Arthur BOYD created series of paintings that are
without doubt a key group of paintings in the history of
Australian art and in Arthur BOYD's development as an artist.
This resulted in one of the
most significant series of ‘Shoalhaven
paintings that are not simply landscapes but rather, a fusion of
BOYD's European and Australian backgrounds.
based on the Shoalhaven River
in the series is absolutely
unique. The precise number of Arthur BOYD paintings produced in
the series is unknown nonetheless every painting in each
individual series is unquestionably unique.
During the latter part of BOYD's painting career,
works were based on the Shoalhaven River, the series most prized
by the public.
'When it came to choosing the medium of copper
Arthur BOYD was setting himself a difficult task.
It was a
time-consuming occupation as just
one copper painting, less than 30
by 9 22 cm, took him over a week to complete. Arthur Boyd call these magnificent works 'little gems'.
Arthur Boyd would use these
as reference for larger works.
BOYD had a strong relationship with the Shoalhaven River
landscape. The Shoalhaven River was the constant source of
inspiration for BOYD's work. From
the 70’s BOYD painted landscapes on the Shoalhaven River. This
resulted in a significant series of
paintings that are
without doubt a key group of paintings in the
history of Australian art and in BOYD's development as an
artist. There is no precise number of BOYD's works in
series however each
artwork based on the Shoalhaven River
is absolutely unique. In 1979 the
ABC TV and BBC TV co-produced the television documentary film,
built on Arthur BOYD life and
In 1979 the
ABC TV and BBC TV co-produced the television documentary film,
built on Arthur BOYD life and
is one of the most expensive pigments as
the plant cultivation was decreased from 1911.
Available in Oils, Rose Madder is an excellent glazing pigment.
natural organic lake pigment
was first used as a dye for fabrics as the evidence (of its us) can be found in
ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian cloths as far back as 1500 BC. Cloth dyed with
madder root pigment was even found in the tomb of Tutankhamun
Rose Madder is
very distinctive rose coloured
pigment is made from the roots of the madder plant,
The pulverised roots can be dissolved in
which leaves a dye called
name for madder) after drying. Another method of increasing the yield consisted
of dissolving the roots in sulfuric acid after they had been used for dyeing.
This produces a dye called
By treating the pulverized roots with alcohol,
was produced. It contained 40–50 times the amount of
of the roots.The roots contain the acid
By drying, fermenting or a treatment with acids, this is changed to sugar,
which were first isolated by the French chemist
Pierre Jean Robiquet
in 1826. Purpurin is normally not coloured, but is red when dissolved in
alkaline solutions. Mixed with clay and treated with
it gives a brilliant red colourant (madder
Considered one of the best quality natural pigments, it was well sought after
and was brought to Europe by the crusaders.
By the 13th century, it was being cultivated across Europe, notably in the
Netherlands as their sandy soil provided a favourable environment for the plant.
However, the production of madder dye was costly and by
1860, Great Britain was importing madder at the value of £1.25 million a year.
It was necessary to find a better, more reliable method
making of the pigment. The renowned colourist George Field made extensive study
of the madder plant and in 1804 discovered a more efficient process of
extracting the dye and making a stronger, more vibrant pigment. William
understood the importance of George Field’s research and acquired Fields’ notes
and experiments following his death in 1854. These 10 volumes formed a basis of
some of the colour recipes for the then newly founded Winsor & Newton Company.
The production of Rose Madder is still based on the
recipes of George Fields, which
Madder was employed medicinally in ancient
civilizations and in the middle ages.
in 1597, wrote of it as having been cultivated in many gardens in his day, and
describes its many supposed virtues of
action which madder may possess. Its most remarkable
effect was found to be that of colouring red the
of animals fed upon it, as also the
of birds. This appears to be due to the chemical affinity of
for the colouring matter. This property was used to enable physiologists to
ascertain the manner in which bones develop, and the functions of the various
found in growing bone.
After ten years in Europe where he built his international profile
as a figurative modernist Australian artist, Arthur BOYD and his
family returned to Australia and purchased the famous property at
Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River in 1978.
From that point on, he set
about painting the immense power of the formidable river landscape
– the strength of the land, the river in flood, the passage of
twilight, and the almost heraldic image of Pulpit Rock – generally
imbued with allegorical narratives of the human condition.
Shoalhaven at Sunset
is a jewel-like
(from the period of the artist greatest artistic acclaim), painted with the colours of
the oil paint reflected from an underlying copper surface, giving it
This makes the
sunset colours seem heightened, more sensual, but that would be for
any viewer who had not been to the Shoalhaven and experienced the
intensity of light over the river at sunset. BOYD captures a deeply
spiritual experience philosophically tied to notions of
sustainability: he strove lifelong for the preservation of the bush
landscape for future generations.
BOYD’s sunset image shows a white cockatoo coming alive,
turning, squawking, descending, as day turns to night. It twists high above the
basalt layers of the riverbank.
It is here that the river gums stand above the
waterline, straining for water in days of endless drought. BOYD marks his belief
in the sustainability of this environment with a foreground triangular structure
of rocks and trees, like a strong abiding haven for the descending cockatoo. Professor Peter James Smith BSc (Hons); Msc; M Stats;
MFA; Phd. November 3, 2013
been used by artists with stunning results. Painting Oil-on-copper plate
allows superior clarity and
brilliance of colour
and is called
with a smooth surface
assures archival quality. Unlike canvas or board,
a copper plate
properly prepared.Painting oil on copper exposes artists to
for that reason contemporary artists seldom use
oil-on-copper-plate painting technique.
A master painter
Arthur BOYD 1920-1999 exhibited
oil-on-copper paintings in Australian Galleries
Melbourne (1976) and at Fischer Fine Art London (1977). Now these
exquisite oil-on-copper are
highly priced rare gems, keenly sought after by the World Art market
Glue the back of the Copper Plate.
To prepare copper plate as an archival
surface, the artist first cut a solid substrate to glue to the back of the
copper plate. This will prevent bending, denting or any other major movement
that would cause the painting to crack. The artist must choose flat,
medium-density fiberboard and cut it to just under the size of the copper plate.
2. Roughen the Back of the Copper
The artists sands the backside
of the copper plate with coarse sandpaper or scratch grooves into the metal.
This roughening helps the glue adhere to the surface while keeping the
protective plastic on the front of the copper plate.
3. Remove Dust from the Copper Plate.
To further ensure a good bond, the artist cleans off the sanded backside of the
copper with denatured alcohol.
5. Tape the Copper Plate to the
To ensure a good bond
between the surfaces the artist tape the board to the copper.
6. Apply Weight to Copper the Plate.
To ensure that the backing
does not slip to one side or the other while drying. The artist must
not come in contact with the copper plate.
When the glue has set, the artists seals the MDF with a wood sealer to prevent
warping or other damage from water penetration.
8. Sand and Clean the
The artists removes the
plastic protection from the front of the copper plate and, while wearing a
particle dust mask and nitrile gloves, sand the surface with fine-grit
sandpaper, taking great care to sand the entire surface thoroughly. If the
artist wants a beveled edge on the copper plate, he sands the edges of the plate
with a file or a block wrapped in sand paper. Once the sanding is completed, the
artist cleans the surface with denatured alcohol and a clean cotton rag or paper
towels. The artists keep clean nitrile gloves on during this process to ensure
that the oils of your skin.
9. Prepare the Copper Plate.
Once the surface is clean, the
artist may remove the particle dust mask and take the plate into the studio.
Then the artist cut a clove of garlic and rub it’s juice onto the painting
surface or use a brush to apply a thin layer of pure garlic juice onto the
surface. Usually several garlic cloves are required and a razor blade on a plate
nearby so, after covering a few square inches, the artist can slice or reslice a
clove for fresh garlic juice. The garlic juice etches the surface of the copper
and allows for a chemical bond to the lead in your primer and/or the lead in
white; this is in addition to the mechanical bond that sanding alone would
10. Paint on the Prepared Copper
Plate. The artist may paint on the
freshly dried, garlic-juice-rubbed copper surface right away with pure oil paint
or apply primer to create a silky smooth white surface for paint application.
Artist use lead white either when priming the surface of the copper or in the
initial layers of the painting because the lead in the paint will chemically
bond to the copper, further ensuring that the paint will have good adhesion to
If painting directly onto the copper plate, artist covers all areas with paint
as exposed copper will eventually change color.
Then again, painting on
colour from the underlying copper
brilliant intensity of glowing light and its
and making it heightened.
How to Prime a Copper
traditional when painting on copper plate. To do this, the artist
applies two coats of very thin lead-based oil primer to the surface.
The artist must keep these layers smooth and thin by rubbing on a
small amount of the lead primer with the gloved palm of your hand.
If artist wish for a smoother surface, after the primer is dry, can
carefully wet sand the surface with oil and fine-grit sandpaper.
Since the 70’s
Arthur BOYD has painted landscapes on the Shoalhaven River.
BOYD had a strong
relationship with the Shoalhaven River landscape.
River was the constant source of inspiration for his work.
This resulted in a significant
paintings that are without doubt
a key group of paintings in the history of Australian art and in BOYD's
development as an artist.
artwork based on the Shoalhaven River is unique. In 1979 the
ABC TV and BBC TV co-produced the television documentary film, built on Arthur
BOYD life and
Arthur BOYD donated his beloved home
on the Shoalhaven River
to Australian people.
Arthur BOYD 1920-1999
(oil on board) small paintings
lower right: Arthur BOYD
cm x 20.8 cm
65 cm x 56 cm
with the Necklace is much more tender than other
BOYD's works from the earlier BRIDE series, such as
The Frighten Bridegroom.
Necklace symbolize precious Jewels,
that the artist donated to Australia.
Bride series is the most romantic and most
valuable series of paintings.
subject to change without prior notice
On the background of the Pulpit Rock ‘The Bride’ descends to Shoalhaven River to
The symbolism of water has a universal undertone of ‘purity and
fertility’ and is often viewed as the source of life itself. Symbolically water
means Transformation, Subconscious, Fertilization, Purification, Reflection,
Intuition, Renewal, Blessing, Motion and Life.
The Bride, associated with love,
beauty and fertility is
wearing a 'Necklace'.
The ‘necklace’ symbolizes the beauty and look of wealth.
Necklace is precious Jewels,
that the artist donated to Australia.
Necklace believed to
hold the power and resembles growth and new beginnings. But also, more
for; nurturing and growth, awakening and positive
change. Historically a necklace has cultural significance to commemorate ancestors and honour the stories.
’Bride with Necklace drinking from Shoalhaven River’ is
characteristically BOYD painted with great attention to details and superb tone of colour and texture.
It isone of
BOYD's most beautiful small Brides paintings of the prestigious the
Arthur BOYD had a strong relationship between
the landscape and the Shoalhaven River.
The Shoalhaven River was the constant
source of inspiration for Arthur BOYD's work. In 1993, Arthur BOYD gave his
Bundanon estate on Shoalhaven River in NSW to the nation for the benefit of
presents an opportunity to purchase a museum-quality art of
the World Art Market offers to International and Australians collectors.
One of Arthur Boyd's most romantic series of paintings is Bride
The hauntingly beautiful Bride paintings are
among Boyd's finest works. Brilliantly executed, Bride
carry expression of
magical ambiance, and
the voice of
understanding. Bride paintings have the presence
at major public museums and galleries
Tate Gallery London, National Gallery of Victoria,
National Gallery of Australia,
confirming the stature of Arthur BOYD legacy in Australian and
with the Serpentis
much more gentle and tender than other works from the original
Bride series, such as
The Serpent symbolise
In 1951 30-year-old Arthur
BOYD travelled to Central Australia
where he witnessed the strained relationships between indigenous
Australians and white Australians. In Persecuted lovers, a
painting from the series Love, Marriage and Death of a
Half-Caste 1957–58 a rifleman takes aim on two lovers with
silent murderous anticipation.
In 1957, Arthur
BOYD developed his first series of Bride images, known more formally as Love,
Marriage and Death of a Half-caste. The early works in the series had as their
focus the relationship between Australia's white and indigenous occupants. By
the 1960s, however, this earlier political emphasis had changed: BOYD's
attention was fixed more on the subject of the bride in the landscape.
In his 1960s images, BOYD frequently combined the motif of a bride drinking from
a river with another favoured visual trope "the diagonally plunging figure with
the bridal gown flared-out and bell-shaped there is a play with the poetic
ambivalence of metaphoric associations: the drinking bride is insect-like, as is
the washing figure, not spider now but rather dragonfly or butterfly, a white
bridal insect lost and watched in wild solitude." (F. Phillipp, Arthur BOYD,
London, 1967, p.100).
The bride's appearance in Bride on the Shoalhaven is reminiscent of these works
from the 1960s, particularly Bride Drinking from a Pool. Nevertheless, in Bride
on the Shoalhaven, painted in the mid-1980s, the wild solitude of BOYD's 1960s
landscape has lightened, becoming less embedding of the figure it surrounds: a
shift perhaps prompted by BOYD's acquisition of his beloved Bundanon.
The artist first visited Bundanon, a property located on the Shoalhaven River on
the south coast of New South Wales, in 1971. BOYD felt an immediate affinity
with the area and in 1973 purchased the nearby property of Riversdale,
subsequently acquiring Bundanon in 1979.
The canvas follows a format familiar to
BOYD's Shoalhaven paintings of the
mid-1970s, with the surface broken up into horizontal bands containing cobalt
blue sky, the steep slope of the riverbank and the river. The disparate elements
are linked by both the textural application of the paint, as well as the immense
figure of the bride, who swoops, bird-like, into the water. Her vertical
movement is replicated by the trunks of the trees, which divide the canvas by
stripes of white, grey and taupe.
BOYD had an intimate knowledge of the landscape that he painted, acquired
through both living and working in the area. Furthermore, his prolific
production of small Shoalhaven landscapes on copper, which were characterised by
precision and detail, helped to imbue his larger scale paintings with a delicacy
and lightness of touch. By the late 1980s, the Shoalhaven was the source of
inspiration for much of BOYD's work, but this did not result in the artist
abandoning his earlier imagery and themes. Exemplified by Bride on the
Shoalhaven, BOYD unites the mystical figure of the bride with the exquisite
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
Arthur BOYD visited the desert regions of Central Australia in 1951, he could
hardly have imagined that paintings resulting from that experience would, within
the decade, be shown in a London gallery; purchased by Australian, British and
American collectors; and become the basis of his international recognition. His
work is now represented in the Australian national and all state galleries and
his 'Bride' series, which includes Bride walking in a Creek I, is ranked among
his greatest achievements.
Born in 1920 in Melbourne,
into a dynasty of artists, Arthur BOYD enrolled intermittently at the National
Gallery of Victoria's art school during the 1930s, he learnt primarily from his
family and their wider intellectual circle in Melbourne: painting techniques,
art history, biblical history and an intense emotional engagement with news
brought from Europe by immigrant friends.
was deeply moved by stories of
displacement and dispossession. Austrian-born fellow artist Josl Bergner had
fled pre-War Europe in 1937. The art historian Franz Philipp, an early supporter
of BOYD's work, arrived in Australia aboard the prison ship Dunera: one of over
2000 German and Austrian interns sent from Britain in 1940. BOYD himself served
briefly and unhappily in the Australian army during the Second World War.
as his biographer Barry Pearce explains, BOYD found in the Aboriginal
settlements near Alice Springs, in Central Australia, a race of displaced
people, caught between two cultures, 'and the implication in it of something
universal'. He saw and sketched shanty towns, shearers, tribes people, and
witnessed an Aboriginal marriage with 'half-caste' women dressed in wedding
Although profoundly dismayed by the plight of the Aboriginal people he
met in the Northern Territor and aware that this was a contemporary tragedy unknown to most urban
Australians, BOYD was not known in making a social-realist record. Rather, he
took the idea of a half-caste groom wooing a half-caste bride, worked it into a
series of large scale paintings and constructed a kind of ballad or a 'passion
play about the tribulations associated with the pursuit of love'.
BOYD called his Bride series 'Love,
marriage and death of a half-caste'.
In the earliest paintings, first exhibited in Melbourne in 1958, there is clear
reference to the arid landscape around Alice Springs. Floating figures, posies
of flowers and a blue-faced Aboriginal groomsman deliberately call Chagall to
mind. However, here in Bride walking in a Creek I, the background is more
verdant, the pigments densely worked into a setting for a haunting dream of love
included Bride walking in a Creek in the now iconic 1959 exhibition of the
'Antipodeans': the manifesto of Melbourne's leading young artists upholding
figurative expressionism in avant-garde art. This was also one of the paintings
BOYD took with him when he and his family sailed for Europe at the end of that
year and was included in his first London one-man show at the Zwemmer Gallery.
BOYD's composition owes something to Rembrandt's Woman bathing in a
Stream of 1654 in the London National Gallery. In the calm after the storm of
the war years, BOYD had turned to the Old Masters for inspiration, researching
traditional techniques in publications such as The Materials of the Artist and
their Use in Painting by Max Doerner (1934).
BOYD had studied important
paintings by Rembrandt at the Gallery in Melbourne but knew A woman bathing in a
stream only in reproduction. Indeed he painted a copy from a reproduction in the
mid 1940s; as well as two versions of Susanna and the Elders, one of these a
mural completed in 1948-9 for the dining room of his uncle Martin BOYD's country
Where Rembrandt depicted his mistress Hendrickje Stoffels wading in a
stream and evoking variously a mythological Diana or a biblical Susanna or
Bathsheba, BOYD's wading woman is clearly Australian. In surviving photographs
of his Susanna mural, sadly now destroyed, the trees hanging over the water are
BOYD's bride is walking, with her Rembrandtesque
garment lifted, in a distinctly antipodean 'creek' - reminiscent of the upper
reaches of the Yarra River. In the words of Franz Philipp, 'Rembrandt the
humanist, the moral, psychological and poetic interpreter of the Bible and, in
it, of mankind, appealed to a painter of strong humane and moral convictions'.
However, rather than mere homage, there is a note of affectionate irony in
BOYD's relationship with the art of the past. BOYD's reference to Susanna in
Bride walking in a Creek is more overt than Rembrandt's in A woman bathing in a
stream, for he includes a dark profile-head watching from the foreground
(somewhat reminiscent of the profiled Elder in Rembrandt's earlier Susanna and
the Elders, 1647, in the Berlin Gem'ldegalerie).
Yet BOYD's approach to the
theme is entirely his own. Just as the apocryphal Susanna innocently aroused
sexual desire in old men who spied on and then falsely accused her, so BOYD's
Bride seems oblivious of the observer in the bush.
BOYD Bride series
- NOTES from Christies
rthur BOYD's Bride series has rightfully
earned a canonical place in Australian art history, due to its powerful picotrialisation of issues of social justice, rendered in a poetic style that
blends figuration with an abstracted surrealism. It has been suggested that "The
Bride series constitutes, together with Nolan's two series on Burke and Wils and
Ned Kelly, the most powerful visual images to emerge from Australian painting...
in this century." (U Hoff, The Art of Arthur BOYD, London, 1986, p.22.)
The original title of the series was 'Love,
Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste', a title that was deliberately ambiguous.
Rather than presenting a simplistic symbolism of a longed for union between
white and black Australia, BOYD avoided a reductive simplification of the racial
issues by making both the bride and bridegroom half-caste. The complexity of the
narrative relations was deepened by the doubling of the bride figure in the form
of an impossible phantom bride, who is the object of a dream-like desire that is
destined to remain forever unfulfilled.
Through the cycle of missed gazes that is the
emotional core of this painting, BOYD evoked unfulfilled longing and a sense of
isolation within the compositional embrace of the figures, in the process
transposing contemporary social issues into poetic and painterly allegory.
Although this work is undeniably one of the more gentle images from the series,
the central theme of the Bride paintings is the dream of integration through
love, an ideal which is stripped of its romanticism by the culture of racism and
violence that is the fundamental reason preventing the lovers from union. BOYD
first became aware of the plight of the indigenous Australians when he visited
the Simpson Desert in Central Australia in 1951.
In BOYD's extant sketchbooks and recorded
reminiscences from the 1951 journey, he records seeing Aborigines and
half-castes "...living in squalor in shanty towns, whorlies and dry riverbeds."
(Hoff, op.cit, p.49.) BOYD himself commented that "They are forced into this
position and it has a serious effect on you, when you are not used to it... You
suddenly come against it after imagining that they are noble savage types living
in the bush..." (A BOYD cited in F Philipp, op.cit. pp.84-86.)
Since the time of colonisation, Aboriginals had
been the subject of many works of art by colonial artists and continued to be
depicted in the art of BOYD's contemporaries such as Russell Drysdale. Common to
all of these works however, was either an idealisation of Aboriginal culture or
their portrayal in an isolated landscape devoid of social context.
With the Bride series,
BOYD became the first
Australian artist to represent indigenous Australian within a cross-cultural
social context, thereby confronting the deep divisions that exist between white
and black Australia. The blonde curls, white face and straight nose (a hallmark
of European physiognomy) of the bride contrasts strongly with the bearded,
pug-nosed face of her bridegroom. Although she too is half-caste, for her
thwarted suitor she remains the symbol of an unobtainable union with white
bridegroom is represented in his usual watchful pose, with knees drawn up and an
inscrutable expression on his face; a pose that Philipp interpreted as that of
BOYD's engagement with art historical precedents
is also evident in this work which contains allusions to Chagall. Philipp noted
that: "The following paintings are pitched in a less substantial and coller
mode, with tenebrous blues and greens dominating.
Bridegroom waiting for his Bride to grow up, on
of the highest poetic realizations of the series, is also a key picture. Moving
towards a more severe style, it still lacks the frozenness and textural
austerity of the monumental group: the paint is scumbled in the blue posy-tree
and the veil of the phantom bride's head which emerges from it.
This painting more than any other suggests to me
an awareness of Chagall. BOYD fully masters the kinetics of his marionettes,
which seem suspended from one fulcrum of gravity: their startled and obsessed
stance and movement, their all-eye stare, the click of their non-relations." (F
Philipp, op.cit, p.92.) The half-caste bridegroom, his transitional cultural
status made evident through his European dress and bare feet, wears a suit
directly derived from the bridegroom in Chagall's floating wedding pictures.