Auction - Rare Raden Saleh painting at Christie's HK in May

Raden Sarief Bustaman Saleh was the first Javanese artist to have followed his calling to Europe and to paint in the Western style. Born an aristocrat, he was the cousin of the Regent of Semarang in Indonesia and was recognised for his artistic gift at an early age, learning under the tutelage of the government landscape painter Antoine Payen. When Payen returned to Europe in 1826, the young Javanese artist joined him three years later. A life-long friendship with Ernest II (1818-1893), Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was crucial to his career as he was introduced to members of the European courts and prominent intellectuals and artists of the time. He became one of the greatest orientalists painters in his days, famed for his paintings of wild and ferocious animals.

One of this works will lead the sale of Christie’s Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art in Hong Kong on May 30. ‘Javanese landscape, with tigers listening to the sound of a travelling group’ has an estimate of US$1,282,000 – 1,795,000, thanks to its provenance dating back to 1849, when the artist gave this painting to his patron, the ruler of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and brother to Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Over the next 156 years, the work was with the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha family and in a private European collection until 2005. That year, the painting was offered at auction but was withdrawn due to its similarities to another work attributed to the artist sold in 1999 at Sotheby’s. Subsequently a ‘Raden Saleh Colloquium’ was held to compare the two works, under an independent legal arbitrator, and the authenticity of the current lot was decided. Works by Raden Saleh are rarely offered at auction. This painting will be unveiled for the first time in many years at Christie’s preview in Singapore on April 30.