Raden Saleh

Raden Saleh

Raden Saleh Sjarif Boestaman (1807 - April 23, 1880) is one of the best known painters from Indonesia.

Raden Saleh, was born into a noble Javanese family in 1807, was a pioneer of modern Indonesian art.

He was considered to be the first modern artist from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), and his paintings corresponded with nineteenth-century romanticism which was popular in Europe at the time. He also expressed his cultural roots and inventiveness in his work.

European sojourn

Young Raden Saleh was first taught in Bogor by the Belgian artist A.J. Payen. Payen acknowledged the youth's talent, and persuaded the colonial government of the Netherlands to send Raden Saleh to the Netherlands to study art. He arrived in Europe in 1829 and began to study under Cornelius Kruseman and Andries Schelfhout.

It was from Kruseman that Raden Saleh studied his skills in portraiture, and later was accepted in various European courts where he was assigned to do portraits. From 1839, he spent five years in the Ernst I court, Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who became an important patron.

From Schelfhout, Raden Saleh furthered his skills as a landscape painter. Raden Saleh visited several European cities, as well as Algiers. In The Hague, a lion tamer allowed Raden Saleh to study his lion, and from that his most famous painting of animal fights were created, and subsequently brought fame to the artist.

Many of his paintings were exhibited in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Several of his paintings were destroyed in when the Colonial Dutch pavilion in Paris was burnt in 1931.

Return

The artist returned to Indonesia in 1851 after living in Europe for 20 years. Here, he worked as conservator for the colonial collection of government art. He continued painting portraits of the Javanese aristocracy, and many more landscape paintings. He died in 1880, after coming back from a second stay in Europe.

Diponegoro

One of the creations Raden Saleh which gained popularity for its historical value was the 'Capture of Prince Diponegoro', which depicted a famous betrayal by the colonial government to the famous Javanese prince. It was returned to Indonesia from the Dutch royal Palace in 1978. Now it is displayed in the President's Palace Museum in Jakarta.

In the painting, Raden Saleh is said to show his views of the colonialist governments from deliberately making the Dutch look pompous and proud, but somehow imbalanced. The Javanese, on the other hand, were depicted as somehow more balanced in composition. It is also believed that one of the Javanese figures in the painting was a self-portrait.

Further reading

  • Karnadi, Koes (editor) 2006) Modern Indonesian art : from Raden Saleh to the present day introduction by Suwarno Wisetrotomo; with contributions by Agung Hujatnikajennong ... [et al.] Denpasar : Koes Artbooks. ISBN 9798704029

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