Raden Saleh, a Javanese nobleman, was the first native of Java to master European painting methods. He was first trained, in Bogor, by the Belgian artist A. J. Payen. Payen persuaded the Dutch colonial government to send Raden to the Netherlands for further study in art. He arrived in Europe in 1829 where he continued his studies under Cornelius Kruseman and Andries Schelfhout.
Kruseman helped train the young artist in portraiture, and he later worked in various European countries. In 1839 he began a five year stay in the court of Ernst I, Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and it was there that he gained in status.
Working with the artist Schelfhout, Raden studied scenic painting, and visited major European cities and also Algeria. In the Hague, a lion tamer allowed Raden Saleh to study his lion, and the resulting paintings brought the artist fame. Raden Saleh’s works — including many of his animal paintings — were exhibited in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, but most of these works were later lost in a 1931 fire at the Dutch Pavilion of a Paris exhibition.
Raden Saleh returned to Indonesia in 1851, and remained there for twenty years, building a Neogothic palace in Batavia. He worked as a conservator for the colonial government’s art collection, and he also continued executing portraits of Javanese aristrocracy and Javanese landscapes. He died in Bogor on April 23, 1880 after returning from a four year stay in Germany, Italy and France.
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Below: A video trailer from the Raden Saleh exhibition: