Category Archives: Tempo Dulu

Revisiting Raden Saleh’s Arrest of Prince Diponegoro



Raden Saleh’s Arrest of Prince Diponegoro (JP/P.J. Leo)

Of the 29 State Palace paintings recently exhibited at the National Gallery as part of Indonesia’s 71st Independence Day celebrations this year, the Arrest of Prince Diponegoro by painting great Raden Saleh remains the most complex symbolism of the early struggle for independence in Java.

Saleh, a Javanese nobleman who studied painting in The Hague, the Netherlands, spent most of his time in Dresden and Coburg, Germany and Paris as a European royal court painter, created the painting in 1857 by adopting the romantic style prevailing in Europe at that time without witnessing the actual event.

Covertly expressing Saleh’s personal voice and emotion, the painting depicts an enraged, defiant Diponegoro with his clenched left fist upon realizing that the invitation of Dutch supreme commander Gen. Hendrik Merkus De Kock, pictured standing next to him, to negotiate on equal terms, was a ploy to capture him.

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