Raden Saleh

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Raden Saleh, self-portrait from 1845

Raden Saleh Syarif Bustaman (* May 1811 in Semarang , Java , † April 23, 1880 in Bogor , Jawa Barat , Indonesia ) was a Javanese prince and painter and is considered the father of modern Indonesian painting. Raden Saleh lived in Europe for a long time and was one of the most colorful artistic personalities of the 19th century. His work is stylistically assigned to the late Romantic period .


Raden Saleh came from the prominent Indonesian princely and regent family of the great Kyai Ngabehi Kertoboso Bustaman (1681-1759). He was born in a small town near Semarang in central Java. His father was Sayid Husen bin Aiwi bin Awal and his mother was Raden Ayu Sarif Husen bin Aiwi bin Awal. The name Bustaman indicates that the family was of Iranian origin, from the city of Bestam. However, Raden Saleh's great-great-grandfather Sayid Husen already lived in Central Java. After the early death of his father, Prince Raden Saleh grew up in the family of his uncle Raden Adipati Surohadimenggolo and thus gained access to the world of Europeans.

The second known member of the Bustaman family was Raden Adipati Surohadimenggolo (1765-1827), grandson of Ki Bustaman and Raden Saleh's uncle. He was ruler of Semarang and one of the most important and cultivated rulers of his time.

The Princely House of Bustaman comprised 20 regents and seven regent families in Indonesia and became known for their support of the most famous Indonesian freedom hero Prince Diponegoro . Saleh's cousin Raden Sukur, son of Bupati of Semarang Adipati Suryamangalla, fought side by side with Prince Diponegoro. Therefore, the Bustaman princes suffered persecution from the colonial powers. Raden Sukur's father and brother were arrested and deported by the Dutch colonial power in September 1825.

The artist

Maxen's Blue House, which Raden Saleh played a key role in.
Arrest of Prince Diponegoro , 1857

According to his own statements, Saleh received his first systematic drawing lessons from Jannes Theodorus Bik (1796–1875), who participated as a draftsman in the Reinwardt natural history commission for the Dutch East Indies. The decisive encounter for Saleh, however, was the one with the Belgian colonial painter Antoine August Joseph Payen (1792–1853), who recognized the young Javanese's talent for drawing and promoted his talent at an early stage. Both entered into a teacher-student relationship that lasted at least three years (1819-1822) and a lifelong bond and affection.

After Prince Diponegoro was arrested by General de Kock , Prince Raden Saleh traveled to Europe and studied art with Cornelius Krusemann and Andreas Schelfhout . He was the first Asian and non-European to receive a European education and to claim the status and self-image of an artist. He was also the first Indonesian to speak five languages ​​fluently.

In 1839 he came to Dresden and Maxen , where he said he lived the best years of his life. During his 20-year stay in Germany and Europe, he became an important part of Dresden's late romanticism and co-founder of German orientalism in painting. Raden Saleh also spent several years at the court of his close friend Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha , brother of Albert , the prince consort of Queen Victoria of Great Britain , and was introduced into society there and at many other European courts. Duke Ernst II, his mother Luise von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg , the Duchess of Kent and Queen Victoria were important sponsors for him and various of his works are exhibited today in Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace in London .

In 1851, Prince Raden Saleh returned to Indonesia and married into the family of the powerful Sultan of Yogyakarta . In 1876 he again traveled to Europe with his second wife to visit his family in Germany and his old friends, including Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and again spent almost two years in Europe. He died in Indonesia in 1880.

Influence of his work

Raden Saleh - Portrait of Johannes Graaf van den Bosch (1836)

Modern Indonesian painting regards him as its founder ( perintis ). The international interest in Prince Raden Saleh and his work has increased further in recent years. His name adorns streets and squares in many cities in Indonesia, and his name and works are still present in Indonesia today.

Prince Raden Saleh brought a new tradition of artistic viewing, a new conception of the essence of the artist and a new technical brilliance to Java. He established the idea of ​​modernity, the idea of ​​the autonomous artist in a society that had not previously known either of these in this form.

His palace in Cikini ( Jakarta ), which Prince Raden Saleh had built on the basis of Callenberg Castle near Coburg , is to house the new Prince Raden Saleh Museum in the future . It is currently used as the administrative building of a hospital and has become a tourist attraction. The Raden Saleh Documentation Center is located in Bandung on the island of Java .

Today his works can be found in private art collections, international museums and in the private possession of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. One of his most famous works, The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro , is on display today in the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. Pictures of his hand fetched high prices at auctions . A deer hunt painted in Dresden in 1846 was auctioned for 5.5 billion Indonesian rupees, around 1.5 million euros. In 2018, a newly discovered painting of a "Bantengjagd" was auctioned for 7.2 million euros.


  • Jutta Tronicke: The blue house: 1848 - 2008 , Verlag Niggemann & Simon, Muglitztal, OT Maxen 2008, ISBN 978-3-9810717-0-2
  • Werner Kraus: Raden Saleh - A painter's life between two worlds . Verlag Niggemann & Simon, Maxen 2004, ISBN 3-9808477-3-X .

Web links

Commons : Raden Saleh  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Jakarta Post: Raden Saleh painting discovered in France . In: The Jakarta Post . ( thejakartapost.com [accessed February 2, 2018]).