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Raden Saleh

Raden Saleh Sjarif Bastaman, known as Raden Saleh, a descendant of a Javanese regent family, was born in 1811 in Terbaya, near Semarang, on the north coast of the island of Java.

At the age of ten, his uncle, the prefect of Semarang, sent him to Jakarta where he attended the Dutch school, which enabled him to enter European circles from an early age. The Belgian painter Antoine Payen, who had come to Java to paint landscapes for the Ministry of Colonies of the Netherlands, noticed the talent of the young Indonesian painter. Under his wing, Raden Saleh was taught the techniques of European painting. Convinced of his pupil’s potential, Antoine Payen encouraged him to study in the Netherlands in 1829, where he studied under the portrait painter Cornelis Kruseman and the landscape painter Andreas Schelfhout.

After these apprenticeships, Raden Saleh began to gain a certain notoriety, and exhibited in The Hague and Amsterdam. Saleh had an unconditional admiration for the Romantics, especially Delacroix. He was inspired by them and developed a special reputation for exotic oriental subjects such as animal hunting.

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He lived in Holland until 1839 and received private commissions for portraits, seascapes and animal drawings. In 1839, the Dutch government decided to send him to study all over Europe for six years. He finally settled in Dresden, where he stayed for four years. In contrast to conservative Holland, where he is considered a product of the talent of the Dutch colonial heritage, Germany, on the other hand, sees him as a fascinating, cultured and exotic character.In 1851, he finally returned to the Dutch Indies where he became the portrait painter of the aristocratic society of Java. It was not until 1875 that he returned to Europe for a short stay of three years before returning to Java in 1878. The painter lived in Europe for about twenty years, building up a reputation as a portraitist and animal painter, which brought him to the forefront of the artistic scene at the time, so much so that he was called the “Painter of the King of the Netherlands”.

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