Raden Saleh

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Raden Saleh Syarif Bustaman
رادين صالح شريف بوستامن
Portrait of Raden Saleh c. 1872.jpg
Raden Saleh in c. 1872
Saleh Sjarif Boestaman

Died(1880-04-23)23 April 1880
Known forPainting, drawing
Notable work
The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro , Deer Hunt, View of Erupting Mount Merapi
Movement Romanticism

Raden Saleh Sjarif Boestaman (Arabic : رادين صالح شريف بوستامنRādīn Ṣāliḥ Šarīf Būstāman, Javanese: ꦫꦢꦺꦤ꧀ꦱꦭꦺꦃꦯ꦳ꦫꦶꦥ꦳꧀ꦨꦸꦱ꧀ꦠꦩꦤ꧀; EYD, EBI: Raden Saleh Syarif Bustaman; 1807 – 23 April 1880) [1] [2] 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.

Javanese language Austronesian language

Javanese is the language of the Javanese people from the central and eastern parts of the island of Java, in Indonesia. There are also pockets of Javanese speakers on the northern coast of western Java. It is the native language of more than 98 million people.

The Enhanced Indonesian Spelling System, also called the Perfected Spelling System (PSS), is the spelling system used for the Indonesian language. It is an orthography that was released in 1972 to replace the Republican Spelling System. The aim was greater harmonization of the Indonesian and Malay-language orthographies.

Indonesia Republic in Southeast Asia

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world's largest island country, with more than seventeen thousand islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres, the 14th largest by land area and the 7th largest in combined sea and land area. With over 261 million people, it is the world's 4th most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world's most populous island, is home to more than half of the country's population.


Early life

Raden Saleh Syarif Bustaman was born in 1807 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. [3] Raden Saleh was connected to Habib Ali Kwitang through his sister, Roqayah, who was married to Ali Kwitang's father Abdurrahman but had no children.

Semarang City in Central Java, Indonesia

Semarang is the capital and largest city of Central Java province in Indonesia. It has an area of 373.78 square kilometres (144.32 sq mi) and a population of approximately 1.8 million people, making it Indonesia's seventh most populous city after Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Bekasi, Medan, and Tangerang. The built-up (metro) area had 3,183,516 inhabitants at the 2010 census spread on 2 cities and 26 districts. Greater Semarang has a population of close to 6 million, and is located at 6°58′S110°25′E. A major port during the Dutch colonial era, and still an important regional center and port today, the city has a dominant Javanese population.

Dutch East Indies Dutch possession in Southeast Asia between 1810-1945

The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony consisting of what is now Indonesia. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Dutch government in 1800.

Hadhrami people Ethnic division of Arabs

The Hadhrami or Hadharem are people inhabiting the Hadhramaut region in Yemen and their descendants in diaspora communities around the world. They speak Hadhrami Arabic an Arabic dialect with a heavy Hadramite Substrate, which belongs to the South Semitic languages.

Travel to Europe

Raden Saleh, c. 1840, credited to Friedrich Carl Albert Schreuel Raden Saleh.jpg
Raden Saleh, c. 1840, credited to Friedrich Carl Albert Schreuel

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.

Bogor City in West Java, Indonesia

Bogor is a city in the West Java province, Indonesia. Located around 60 kilometers (37 mi) south of the national capital of Jakarta, Bogor is the 6th largest city of Jabodetabek and the 14th nationwide. The city covers an area of 118.5 km2, and it had a population of 950,334 at the 2010 Census; the latest official estimate was 1,096,828. Bogor is an important economic, scientific, cultural and tourist center, as well as a mountain resort.

Antoine Payen the Younger Belgian painter

Auguste Antoine Joseph Payen, also known as Antoine Payen the Younger, was a Belgian painter and naturalist. He was born in Brussels and died in Tournai. His father, Antoine Payen the Elder, was an architect.

Andreas Schelfhout Dutch painter, etcher and lithographer

Andreas Schelfhout (1787–1870) was a Dutch painter, etcher and lithographer, known for his landscape paintings.

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. [4]

Freemasonry group of fraternal organizations

Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, which from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients. The degrees of Freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Apprentice, Journeyman or fellow, and Master Mason. The candidate of these three degrees is progressively taught the meanings of the symbols of Freemasonry, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other members that he has been so initiated. The initiations are part allegorical morality play and part lecture. The three degrees are offered by Craft Freemasonry. Members of these organisations are known as Freemasons or Masons. There are additional degrees, which vary with locality and jurisdiction, and are usually administered by their own bodies.

Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha sovereign duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

Ernest I was the last sovereign duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and, from 1826, the first sovereign duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was the father of Albert, Prince Consort of Queen Victoria and is thus a patrilineal ancestor and great-great-great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. Ernest fought against Napoleon Bonaparte, and through construction projects and the establishment of a court theatre, he left a strong imprint on his residence town, Coburg.

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.

The Hague City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

The Hague is a city on the western coast of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of South Holland. It is also the seat of government of the Netherlands.

Rijksmuseum National museum, Art museum, History museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw.

Return to Dutch East Indies

Photograph of Raden Saleh's house in Cikini in c. 1875-1885 COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Het huis van de kunstschilder Raden Saleh door hemzelf gebouwd. TMnr 60005156.jpg
Photograph of Raden Saleh's house in Cikini in c. 1875–1885
Raden Saleh in 1872 COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Portret van de kunstschilder Raden Saleh. TMnr 60005151.jpg
Raden Saleh in 1872

Raden Saleh returned to Dutch East Indies in 1852, [5] :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. [5] :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. [5] :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. [5] :30 She died on 31 July 1880, [5] :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." [5] :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, Germany, said that Saleh "never mentioned Delacroix. Perhaps he saw Delacroix's, and possibly Vernet's, works during an exhibition." [5] :23

The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro

The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro, 1857, Merdeka Palace Museum, Jakarta. Raden Saleh - Diponegoro arrest.jpg
The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro , 1857, Merdeka Palace Museum, Jakarta.

Raden Saleh is particularly remembered for his historical painting, The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro, [5] :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. [5] :26

Raden Saleh’s work has been regarded as a sign of incipient nationalism in what was then the Dutch East Indies. [6] 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. Even though the painting did not fall under any of those categories, because Saleh presented it to the King of the Netherlands and it was never in the possession of Indonesia, it was nevertheless returned as a gift from the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, and is currently displayed at the Merdeka Palace Museum in Jakarta. [5] :26


See also

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  1. Raden Saleh: The Romantic Aristocrat
  2. Prince Raden Saleh: Aristocrat, Artist, Scientist and Patriot
  3. 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 28 April 2011.
  4. Art Daily- Rare Work by Javanese Artist Raden Saleh to be Offered at Christie's Retrieved February 17, 2015
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Pioneer Between Worlds", National Geographic Indonesia, 2012.
  6. Novia D. Rulistia (2 August 2013). "Raden Saleh's masterpieces to undergo restoration". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 29 November 2013.

Further reading