Raden Saleh, c. 1840, credited to Friedrich Carl Albert Schreuel
|Birth name||Saleh Sjarif Boestaman|
Semarang, Dutch East Indies
|Died||23 April 1880
Bogor, Dutch East Indies
|Works||Capture of Prince Diponegoro, Deer Hunt, View of Erupting Mount Merapi|
Raden Saleh Sjarif Boestaman (1811 - April 23, 1880) was an Indonesian Romantic painter of Arab ethnicity who pioneered modern Indonesian art. He was considered to be the first modern artist from Indonesia (then Dutch East Indies), 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.
Raden Saleh was born into a noble Hadhrami family. He was the grandson of Sayyid Abdullah Bustaman on his mother's side. His father was Sayyid Husen bin Alwi bin Awal bin Yahya, an Indonesian of Arab descent.
Travel to Europe
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 at various European courts where he was assigned to do portraits. While in Europe, in 1836 Saleh became the first indigenous Indonesian to be initiated into Freemasonry. From 1839, he spent five years at the court of Ernst I, 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 was created, which subsequently brought fame to the artist. Many of his paintings were exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Several of his paintings were destroyed when the Colonial Dutch pavilion in Paris was burnt in 1931.
Return to Dutch East Indies
Raden Saleh returned to Dutch East Indies in 1852, after living in Europe for 20 years. He worked as conservator for the colonial collection of government art and continued painting portraits of the Javanese aristocracy, and many more landscape paintings. Returning to Java, he expressed his uneasiness of living in the colonies, stating that "here, people only talks about coffee and sugar, then sugar and coffee." in one his letters.
Upon returning, Saleh built a house in Cikini, based on the Callenberg Castle of which he stayed in during his European travels c. 1844. Surrounded by vast grounds, most of the them was converted into public gardens in 1862, and were closed in the turn of the century. In 1960, Taman Ismail Marzuki was built in the former gardens. The house itself is still used today as a hospital.
He married a young aristocratic woman of Yogyakarta Sultanate, Raden Ayu Danudirdja, in 1867 and subsequently moved to Bogor, where he rent a house near Bogor Botanical Gardens with a view of Mount Salak. He later took his wife to travel in Europe, visiting countries such as the Netherlands, France, German, and Italy. His wife however contracted an illness while in Paris, the exact illness is still not known, and was so severe that they both immediately returned to Bogor. She died on 31 July 1880, following her husband's death 3 months earlier.
On Friday morning, 23 April 1880, Saleh suddenly fell sick. He claimed that he was poisoned by one of his servants, but later examination showed that his blood flow was disrupted due to a clot near his heart. Saleh was buried two days later in Kampung Empang, Bogor. As reported in Javanese Bode newspaper, 28 April 1880, his funeral was "attended by various land lords and Dutch officials, and even by curious students from nearby school."
During his stay in Paris, Saleh met Horace Vernet whose painting frequently took themes of African wildlife. Compared to Vernet, Saleh's painting seems to be more influenced by the romantic painter Eugène Delacroix. This could be seen in one of Saleh's work, Hunting Lion, 1840, which has similar compositition to Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. However, Werner Kraus, a researcher in the Southeast-Asian Art Center of Passau, German, said that Saleh "never mentioned Delacroix. Perhaps he saw Delacroix's, and possibly Vernet's, works during an exhibiton."
Capture of Prince Diponegoro
Raden Saleh is particularly remembered for his historical painting, Capture of Prince Diponegoro, which depicted the betrayal of the colonial government to the rebel leader Prince Diponegoro, thus ending the Java War in 1830. The Prince was tricked into entering Dutch custody near Magelang, believing he was there for negotiations of a possible cease-fire. He was captured through treachery and later deported.
The event had been previously painted by a Dutch painter Nicolaas Pieneman, commisioned by Lieutenant General Hendrik Merkus de Kock. It is thought that Saleh saw this painting during his stay in Europe. Saleh made significant changes in his version of the painting; Pieneman painted the scene from the right, Saleh from the left. Pieneman depicts Diponegoro with resigned expression, while in Saleh's he appears to be outraged. Pieneman gave his painting the tittle Submission of Prince Diponegoro, while Saleh gave Capture of Prince Diponegoro. It is known that Saleh deliberately painted Diponegoro's Dutch captors with large heads to make them appear monstrous, as opposed to the more proportionally depicted Javanese.
Raden Saleh’s work has been regarded as a sign of incipient nationalism in what was then the Dutch East Indies. This can also be seen it the depiction of Diponegoro's men. Pieneman had never been to Dutch Indies, and so depicted Diponegoro's men in a more Arabic fashion. Saleh's version has a more accurate depiction of native Javanese clothing, with some figures wearing batik and blangkon.
Saleh finished this painting in 1857 and presented it to Willem III of Netherlands in Den Haag. It was returned to Indonesia in 1978 as a realization of a cultural agreement between the two countries in 1969, regarding the return of cultural items which were took, lent, or exchanged to the Dutch in the previous eras. However, the painting did not fall under any of those category because Saleh presented it to the King of Netherland and was never in the possesion of Indonesia. It was returned as a gift from the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, and is currently displayed at the Merdeka Palace Museum in Jakarta.
Portrait of Herman Willem Daendels, 1838
- Raden Saleh: The Romantic Aristocrat
- Prince Raden Saleh: Aristocrat, Artist, Scientist and Patriot
- Algadri, Hamid (1994). Dutch Policy against Islam and Indonesians of Arab Descent in Indonesia. Jakarta, Indonesia: LP3ES. p. 187. ISBN 979-8391-31-4. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
- National Geographic. "Pioneer Between Worlds" (2012), p.26
- National Geographic. "Pioneer Between Worlds" (2012), p. 31
- National Geographic. "Pioneer Between Worlds" (2012), p. 30
- National Geographic. "Pioneer Between Worlds" (2012), p.23
- Novia D. Rulistia (August 2, 2013). "Raden Saleh’s masterpieces to undergo restoration". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- National Geographic. National Geographic Indonesia (2012) May edition, "Pioneer Between Worlds". Jakarta, Indonesia.
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- 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 979-8704-02-9
- Heuken, Adolf (1982). Historical Sites of Jakarta. Jakarta, Indonesia: Cipta Loka Caraka.
- Yayasan Untuk Indonesia (2005). Ensiklopedi Jakarta: culture & heritage, Volume 3. Jakarta, Indonesia: merintah Provinsi Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, Dinas Kebudayaan dan Permuseuman, Indonesia. ISBN 978-979-8682-52-0.