Raden Saleh, Pioneer in Indonesian Modern Painting

August 30, 2010
Raden Saleh

Raden Saleh

IF in the twentieth century we know Affandi, in the previous age we have Raden Saleh. They are Indonesian great artists with international reputations. Differ  from Affandi that was an abstract-expressionist, Raden Saleh closed to romanticism which was so popular in Europe in nineteenth century. Although born in Indonesia, Raden Saleh obtained European art education and for long time lived in several countries in Europe.

There is no a clear document about his birthday. The estimation is between 1807 and 1811 in Dutch colonial era. Born as an aristocrat, Raden Saleh was the cousin of the Regent of Semarang in Center of Java. He learned painting firstly when living in Bogor, West Java, under tutorial of the government landscape painter AA Payen. Thanks to Payen’s persuation, the colonial government of the Netherlands agreed to send Raden Saleh to the Netherlands for studying art. He arrived in Europe in 1829 and lived in The Hague under protection of the Dutch government.  Here, he studied the skills in portrait painting art and later was accepted as a portrait painter in various European courts.

"The Capture of Prince Diponegoro", by Raden Saleh

“The Capture of Prince Diponegoro”, by Raden Saleh

Raden Saleh also got a chance to a long educational tour to Germany and France. Spending most of his time in Dresden, Coburg and Paris, this Javanese talented artist made friendship with Ernest II (1818-1893), Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, brother-in-law to Queen Victoria. Through this friendship Raden Saleh was introduced to prominent intellectuals and artists in Europe. Besides portrait paintings, Raden Saleh was acknowledged with his works art of wild and ferocious animals.

r-saleh-paintingAfter about 20 years living in Europe, Raden Saleh returned to Indonesia in 1851. Beside working as conservator for the colonial collection of government art, he continued painting portraits of Javanese aristocracy  and many more landscape paintings. He died in 1880, after coming back from a second stay in Europe.

One creation of Raden Saleh which so popular as a historical work is The Capture of Prince Diponegoro. Prince Diponegoro is a Javanese prince that fighting against the Dutch colonial government. He with his troops have been fighting against the colonial army about five years until his capture in 1830. Raden Saleh showed in his painting the strained situation at the capture moment. Prince Diponegoro was painted so stiff and firm.

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