Raden Saleh, Lion Hunt, 1841, oil on canvas, 34 3/4 × 56".

“Between Worlds: Raden Saleh and Juan Luna”

National Gallery Singapore

Raden Saleh, Lion Hunt, 1841, oil on canvas, 34 3/4 × 56".

THERE WAS A BRIEF MOMENT during the making of his painting The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro, 1857, when Raden Saleh almost seemed to awaken from his long, captive slumber.

The painting has Diponegoro, the Javanese prince who led his people against the colonizing Dutch in the third decade of the nineteenth century, facing off against the Dutch lieutenant general Hendrik Merkus de Kock. No doubt De Kock was simply guiding the prince into the nearby carriage that would take him into exile, but—as many have pointed out—Diponegoro’s upper torso is arched slightly backward, his chin up, his look one of defiance. He resists—proudly, heroically—the commanding Dutchman.

The defeat of Diponegoro in 1830 was a watershed moment in the history of Indonesia. The Dutch would ramp up control and domination of Java in the following decades, instituting a more rigorous method of

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