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Jakarta Post

Raden Saleh'€™s masterpieces to undergo restoration

  • Novia D. Rulistia

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, August 2, 2013   /  11:18 am
Raden Saleh'€™s masterpieces to undergo restoration Phase 1: The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro after it was cleaned as part of its restoration. (YAD)" height="321" border="0" width="512">Phase 1: The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro after it was cleaned as part of its restoration. (YAD)

Two more-than-a-century-old paintings of Raden Saleh, the maestro of modern Indonesian painting, are getting a special makeover.

The rarely seen paintings are Penangkapan Pangeran Diponegoro (The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro), which is part of the permanent collection of the State Palace, and Harimau Minum (The Drinking Tiger), which is held by the Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java.

The restoration process was initiated by Arsari Djojohadikusumo Foundation (YAD) and the Goethe Institute, in collaboration with conservator Susanne Erhards from Germany.

“The decision to restore the two paintings was based on their historic value and the level of damage,” foundation chairman and businessman Hashim Djojohadikusumo said at a recent press conference.

Fine work: A cotton swab turned gray from the dirt it has removed from one of Raden Saleh’s painting. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)Fine work: A cotton swab turned gray from the dirt it has removed from one of Raden Saleh’s painting. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)
The paintings of Raden Saleh, who lived from about 1811 to 1880, are widely acclaimed and have been exhibited at museums including the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France.

The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro, completed in 1857, arguably Raden Saleh’s most famous work, shows a seminal moment in the nation’s history: An unbowed and defiant Diponegoro as he was captured by Dutch soldiers who deceived him under a flag of truce to end the Java War in 1830.

The painting stands in sharp contrast to The Submission of Prince Dipo Negoro to General de Kock by Nicolaas Pieneman, which depicts a sullen and defeated prince and an arrogant Dutch general. Raden Saleh’s work has been regarded as a sign of incipient nationalism in what was then the Dutch East Indies.

Peter Carey, an art historian who has written extensively about Raden Saleh, praised the artist’s craft and talent. “Artistically, from his paintings, we can see how well he painted the faces — the facial expressions of people there. I like it because he painted de Kock very well, too. This must be preserved.”

Erhards said that the restoration of The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro had begun last year, when it was cleaned before it was displayed at a rare local exhibition of Raden Saleh’s works at the National Gallery in Gambir, Central Jakarta.

Details, details: Susanne retouches Raden Saleh’s Harimau Minum, currently in the collection of the Bogor Presidential Palace. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)Details, details: Susanne retouches Raden Saleh’s Harimau Minum, currently in the collection of the Bogor Presidential Palace. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)
In the next phase of the restoration, samples of varnish taken from the painting would be sent to Germany for a detailed breakdown of its chemical composition, Erhards said. “It’s important to get those facts. If the varnish is colored, it is important to reproduce the varnish recipe to keep the authenticity of the original before adding varnish onto the surface during the treatment of the paint layer.”

The painting’s canvas would also be scrutinized as part of the conservation process. The painting would have to be remounted from its current stretcher frame to prevent further damage, as its edges had turned brittle, according to the conservator.

To stabilize the turnover edge, a string lining would be added to the original canvas and the original stretcher would be stabilized so that the painting could be remounted.

“The whole process will take about 36 days,” Erhards said.

This is not the first time that Erhards has worked with a painting of Raden Saleh. She previously restored the master’s The Dutch Colonial Troops Patrolling Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu, which is currently owned by Hashim.

Catrini Kubontubuh, the foundation’s executive director, said that red tape had stymied plans for Erhards to restore five of six paintings in the permanent collections of the State Palace.

At work: Conservator Susanne Erhards retouches Raden Saleh’s The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)

Phase 1: The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro after it was cleaned as part of its restoration. (YAD)

Two more-than-a-century-old paintings of Raden Saleh, the maestro of modern Indonesian painting, are getting a special makeover.

The rarely seen paintings are Penangkapan Pangeran Diponegoro (The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro), which is part of the permanent collection of the State Palace, and Harimau Minum (The Drinking Tiger), which is held by the Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java.

The restoration process was initiated by Arsari Djojohadikusumo Foundation (YAD) and the Goethe Institute, in collaboration with conservator Susanne Erhards from Germany.

'€œThe decision to restore the two paintings was based on their historic value and the level of damage,'€ foundation chairman and businessman Hashim Djojohadikusumo said at a recent press conference.

Fine work: A cotton swab turned gray from the dirt it has removed from one of Raden Saleh'€™s painting. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)Fine work: A cotton swab turned gray from the dirt it has removed from one of Raden Saleh'€™s painting. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)
The paintings of Raden Saleh, who lived from about 1811 to 1880, are widely acclaimed and have been exhibited at museums including the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France.

The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro, completed in 1857, arguably Raden Saleh'€™s most famous work, shows a seminal moment in the nation'€™s history: An unbowed and defiant Diponegoro as he was captured by Dutch soldiers who deceived him under a flag of truce to end the Java War in 1830.

The painting stands in sharp contrast to The Submission of Prince Dipo Negoro to General de Kock by Nicolaas Pieneman, which depicts a sullen and defeated prince and an arrogant Dutch general. Raden Saleh'€™s work has been regarded as a sign of incipient nationalism in what was then the Dutch East Indies.

Peter Carey, an art historian who has written extensively about Raden Saleh, praised the artist'€™s craft and talent. '€œArtistically, from his paintings, we can see how well he painted the faces '€” the facial expressions of people there. I like it because he painted de Kock very well, too. This must be preserved.'€

Erhards said that the restoration of The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro had begun last year, when it was cleaned before it was displayed at a rare local exhibition of Raden Saleh'€™s works at the National Gallery in Gambir, Central Jakarta.

Details, details: Susanne retouches Raden Saleh'€™s Harimau Minum, currently in the collection of the Bogor Presidential Palace. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)Details, details: Susanne retouches Raden Saleh'€™s Harimau Minum, currently in the collection of the Bogor Presidential Palace. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)
In the next phase of the restoration, samples of varnish taken from the painting would be sent to Germany for a detailed breakdown of its chemical composition, Erhards said. '€œIt'€™s important to get those facts. If the varnish is colored, it is important to reproduce the varnish recipe to keep the authenticity of the original before adding varnish onto the surface during the treatment of the paint layer.'€

The painting'€™s canvas would also be scrutinized as part of the conservation process. The painting would have to be remounted from its current stretcher frame to prevent further damage, as its edges had turned brittle, according to the conservator.

To stabilize the turnover edge, a string lining would be added to the original canvas and the original stretcher would be stabilized so that the painting could be remounted.

'€œThe whole process will take about 36 days,'€ Erhards said.

This is not the first time that Erhards has worked with a painting of Raden Saleh. She previously restored the master'€™s The Dutch Colonial Troops Patrolling Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu, which is currently owned by Hashim.

Catrini Kubontubuh, the foundation'€™s executive director, said that red tape had stymied plans for Erhards to restore five of six paintings in the permanent collections of the State Palace.

At work: Conservator Susanne Erhards retouches Raden Saleh'€™s The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)At work: Conservator Susanne Erhards retouches Raden Saleh'€™s The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro. (GRUPPE Köln, Erhards & Seufert)
'€œWe submitted a MoU [memorandum of understanding] to the Education and Culture Ministry to perform this restoration four months ago, but we just learned that we also had to include the Presidential Secretariat in the letter, so we need to revise it first,'€ Catrini said.

'€œWe hope that the permits will come soon, so Susanne can do the restoration soon, because she will only be here until end of September,'€ Catrini said.

Ratih Anggraini, a representative of the Presidential Secretariat who was also at the press conference, said that the head of the Palaces Management Bureau at the secretariat had just agreed to allow the painting to be taken off its display wall for undergo restoration.

The permit would be issued soon after a new MoU was signed by all related parties, Ratih said, after receiving a response to a phone call placed hastily during the conference.

'€œThe restoration process will take place in our restoration laboratory at the Bogor Palace,'€ Ratih said.