Raden Saleh, a Javanese Painter

The Javanese painter Raden Saleh (Syarif Bustaman, 1811-1880) is considered to be the ‘father’ of modern Indonesian painting. He was born into a very prominent Javanese noble family and came in early years in contact with the world of the Europeans.

Interestingly, the Bustaman family supported the Javanese prince Diponegoro in the Java War of 1825-30, when a great part of the Javanese fought against the increasingly demanding Dutch rule.

Raden Saleh travelled to the Netherlands in 1830 where he studied art. He was the first Asian and generally non-European who got an European education and developed a self-conception as a modern artist. He spoke five languages fluently, among them Dutch and German.

In 1839 he travelled to Germany and spent years at the court of the duke of Sachsen-Coburg and Gotha (the German sideline of the Victorian English royal family, who renamed themselves later to the ‘Windsors’). Raden Saleh was introduced into the highest circles of nobility in Europe, what certainly contributed to his fame and the fact that his paintings still nowadays are dealt in millions of US$ on the international art markets. Some of his paintings are presented in Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.

He spent altogether 22 years in Germany and was a co-founder of the German branche of Orientalism in paintings and partially also active in architecture. Remarkable that he had a white servant, inverting the common pattern of the time that usually ‘white’, western people never served to any of the colonialized people. For some Westerners of the time it was seen as a scandal.

Raden Saleh’s palace in Jakarta is designed after palais Callenberg near Coburg and is nowadays a tourist attraction; it is designed to be turned into a new ‘Prince-Raden-Saleh Museum’.


This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Raden Saleh’. Read the whole article on Raden Saleh.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

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