Raden Saleh "Lion Hunt"

Portrait of Raden Saleh (1841) by Karl Johann BährThe Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

Raden Sarief Bustaman Saleh (ca 1811–1880) was the first Javanese Muslim artist to have followed his calling to Europe and learn the Western painting style.

Born an aristocrat, he was recognised for his artistic gift at an early age and learned under the tutelage of the landscape painter Antoine Payen (1792–1853).

When Payen returned from Indonesia to Europe in 1826, the young artist joined him three years later to continue learning under his tutelage. 

De schilder Raden Saleh (1860 - in of voor 1872) by Woodbury & PageRijksmuseum

Raden Saleh lived in The Hague and took a long educational tour to Germany and France, spending most of his time in Dresden, Coburg and Paris, travelling extensively also to other places such as Scotland, England and Switzerland. He returned to Indonesia in 1852 after living in Europe for 20 years.

The Lion Hunt (1841) by Sjarif Bustaman Raden Saleh (1807/1814, Semarang–1880, Bogor near Jakarta)The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

Lion Hunt is one of the earliest hunting scenes by Raden Saleh and was exhibited at the annual Dresden Academy exhibition in 1840, earning a positive recognition. He produced various versions of this storyline.

Lion hunts have been a subject in the iconography of Western art since antiquity, but it was Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) who gave this genre a renewed impulse, when he created a series of various wild animal hunts.

Raden Saleh was familiar with Rubens work and copied his paintings while studying Dutch collections and while in Dresden.

His “Lion Hunt” could be directly influenced by Rubens painting “A Lion Hunt” (1617–1618).

Saleh began studying wild animals and painting lions during his last years in The Hague when he visited wild animal shows in The Hague and Haarlem staged by the famous French animal tamer Henri Martin (1793–1882). He had never encountered lions before these animal shows. 

He spent a considerable time studying the anatomy of lions and made numerous sketches.

Raden Saleh was a confident and skilful painter of emotionally charged scenes as can be seen by the suffering of the lions.

Twee tijgers sluipend door het gras (1824 - 1880) by Saleh, Raden Sarief BastamanRijksmuseum

He painted not only lions, but also other wild animals such as tigers, gradually reaching maturity as a painter during his years in Dresden. 

The Lion Hunt (1841) by Sjarif Bustaman Raden Saleh (1807/1814, Semarang–1880, Bogor near Jakarta)The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

Raden Saleh’s “Lion Hunt” from the museum collection was acquired in Dresden by Friedrich Wilhelm Brederlo (1776–1862), a wealthy German-Baltic trader from Riga, who at the time was known for his collection of painting of Dutch and Flemish old masters and contemporary artists.

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