Sunday, January 14, 2007

Prince Raden Saleh - Aristocrat, Patriot and Artist

Prince Raden Saleh was born in 1811 into the noble Indonesian Regent family of the famous Kijai Ngabehi Kertoboso Bustaman (1681-1759).

The Bustaman family encompassed 20 Regents and at least 7 Regent families throughout Indonesia, and is remembered for their heroic support of Prince Diponegoro's struggle for independence.

They suffered major deprivations from it and his cousin Raden Sukur, son of the Bupati of Semarang, Adipati Suryamangalla, also fought on the side of Prince Diponegoro. Because of this, Raden Sukur's father and brother both were arrested by the Dutch in 1825 and sent into exile.

Following the treacherous arrest of Prince Diponegoro by General de Kock, Prince Raden Saleh moved to Europe, where he studied art under Cornelius Kruseman and Andreas Schelfhout.

Although he was the first Indonesian artist to paint in the Western style, the fact that he expressed individuality and creativity in his work (as opposed to the traditional approach which stressed the reproduction of established forms and styles) showed the way for future Indonesian artists to express their own ideas more freely.

It was from Kruseman that Prince Raden Saleh learned his skills as a portraitist, and he was received at various European courts where he was commissioned mainly to do portraits. 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, Prince Raden Saleh learned the skills of a landscape artist.

Prince Raden Saleh visited many European cities, as well as Algiers. While in The Hague (Netherlands), a lion tamer allowed him to study his lions, and subsequently wild animal scenes brought Prince Raden Saleh great fame.

During his stay in Europe, Raden Saleh met with many important painters and artists, such as Eugene Delacroix.

While many believe that Prince Raden Saleh was influenced by the latter, actually the opposite is obvious and Eugene Delacroix seems to have copied some of Raden Saleh’s masterpieces. In 1840 and 1841 Prince Raden Saleh painted several pictures called "Lionhunt", whereas Delacroix made various "Lion Hunt" paintings which closely resemble Raden Saleh’s, in 1854, 1858 and 1860/61, fifteen to twenty years after the Prince Raden Saleh originals.

Original "Lion Hunt on Java" sold for Euro 805.00,00 (approx. USD 966,000.00 on November 18, 2005 in Germany.

In 1839 Prince Raden Saleh painted one of his masterpieces named “Lions and Snake”, which symbolizes the eternal fight of good against evil, and Delacroix painted a very similar theme called “Tiger and Snake” in 1862, again twenty-three years after the Prince Raden Saleh original.

Prince Raden Saleh returned to Indonesia in 1851, having lived in Europe for over 20 years and subsequently married into the family of the powerful Sultan of Yokyakarta. He continued to paint, producing portraits of Javanese aristocrats, and many landscapes. Prince Raden Saleh died on April 23, 1880, after returning from a second extended stay in Europe.

One of Prince Raden Saleh's most touching creations is his oil painting 'The Capture of Prince Diponegoro' which was returned to Indonesia from the Royal Palace of the Netherlands in 1978. It is now on display at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. In the painting, Prince Raden Saleh deliberately made the heads of the Dutch big, a reference to their pomposity and arrogance, and also to make them 'laughable' figures in comparison with the well-balanced figures of the Indonesians.

It is believed that the Javanese man covering his face with his hands, standing behind Prince Diponegoro, and the Javanese man standing with his head bowed in the crowd at the bottom of the stairs, are both self-portraits.

The Prince Raden Saleh Society is home to the largest collection of his works of art and media world-wide, and at the same time the most comprehensive source on Raden Saleh related topics and research information.

Due to the ever increasing interest in Prince Raden Saleh’s life and works, and in order to uphold the memory of Indonesia’s foremost artist by commemorating the 195th anniversary of his birth in 2006, Prince Raden Saleh's great-grandnephew Dr. Dr. George H. Hundeshagen has issued a selection of Raden Saleh’s finest masterpieces in new, modern interpretations.

In his homage to his great-granduncle, Dr. Dr. Hundeshagen also expresses his deep passion and love for Indonesia, the country of his ancestors, and brings to life once more the genius and brilliance of Prince Raden Saleh. Dr. Dr. Hundeshagen has already made himself a name and gained recognition in the art world of Europe and America, not only as curator of his great-granduncle's fame and works of art, but also for his bold modern adaptations of his various masterpieces.

Dr. Dr. Hundeshagen's works of art - just as his great-granduncle's timeless masterpieces - are already part of the private collections of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, as well as the government of the Republic of Indonesia.

Please follow this link to our Raden Saleh Art Gallery and enjoy browsing the world's largest selection of Raden Saleh's timeless masterpierces.

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