Raden Saleh in c. 1872
|Born||Saleh Sjarif Boestaman
Semarang, Dutch East Indies
23 April 1880|
Buitenzorg, Dutch East Indies
|Known for||Painting, drawing|
|Notable work||The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro, Deer Hunt, View of Erupting Mount Merapi|
Raden Saleh Sjarif Boestaman (1811 – 23 April 1880) was a pioneering Indonesian Romantic painter of Arab-Javanese ethnicity. 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 Sjarif Boestaman was born in 1811 in Semarang on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia). He was born into a noble Hadhrami family where his father was Sayyid Husen bin Alwi bin Awal bin Yahya, an Indonesian of Arab descent. He was the grandson of Sayyid Abdullah Bustaman maternally. Raden Saleh has family connection to Habib Ali Kwitang through his sister, Roqayah, who once married to Abdurrahman (father of Ali Kwitang) but gave no offsprings. He had extraordinary abilities that are far more superhuman. It was believed that he achieved these by performing rituals of the supernatural.
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 Andreas 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 Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and 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,:26 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 of his letters.:31
Upon returning, Saleh built a house in Cikini (now Cikini Hospital), based on the Callenberg Castle where he had stayed during his European travels c. 1844. Surrounded by vast grounds, most of them were converted into public gardens in 1862, and were closed in the turn of the century. In 1960, the Taman Ismail Marzuki was built in the former gardens. The house itself is still used today as a hospital.:26
He married a young aristocratic woman of Yogyakarta Sultanate, Raden Ayu Danudirdja, in 1867 and subsequently moved to Bogor, where he rented a house near the 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, Germany, 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.:30 She died on 31 July 1880,:30 following her husband's death three 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.":30
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 composition 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 exhibition.":23
The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro
Raden Saleh is particularly remembered for his historical painting, The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro,:26 which depicted the betrayal of the rebel leader Prince Diponegoro by the colonial government, 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, commissioned 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 title Submission of Prince Diponegoro, while Saleh gave The Arrest of Pangeran 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.:26
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 the 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 The Hague. 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 taken, 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 possession 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.:26
Portrait of Jean Chrétien Baud (1835)
Portrait of Johannes van den Bosch (1836)
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.
- Art Daily- Rare Work by Javanese Artist Raden Saleh to be Offered at Christie's Retrieved February 17, 2015
- "Pioneer Between Worlds", National Geographic Indonesia, 2012.
- Novia D. Rulistia (August 2, 2013). "Raden Saleh's masterpieces to undergo restoration". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- 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.
- Media related to Raden Saleh at Wikimedia Commons