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Pushkin Seen from Java

Published on , by Céline Piettre
Auction on 26 January 2019 - 14:30 (CET) - 8, rue du docteur Joseph-Audic, zone d'activités du Ténénio - 56001 Vannes

Rather than the sidewhiskers so common in Russia at the time, it is the impressive mop of curly hair, matt complexion and blue eyes that enable this to be identified as a portrait of Alexander Pushkin – after all, his great grandfather was a native of Logone, a town in the north of present-day Cameroon. But though this...

Raden Syarif Bastaman Saleh (1811 or 1814-1880), "Presumed portrait of Pushkin",... Pushkin Seen from Java
Raden Syarif Bastaman Saleh (1811 or 1814-1880), "Presumed portrait of Pushkin", original frame and canvas, signed and dated on the right: "Raden saleh 1841", 59 x 52.5 cm.
Estimate: €60,000/80,000

Rather than the sidewhiskers so common in Russia at the time, it is the impressive mop of curly hair, matt complexion and blue eyes that enable this to be identified as a portrait of Alexander Pushkin – after all, his great grandfather was a native of Logone, a town in the north of present-day Cameroon. But though this is certainly the writer, he died four years before the oil on canvas was painted, and he never met the artist: Raden Saleh. However, the Indonesian painter, then living in Dresden in the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, certainly knew Vasily Tropinin's pictures of Pushkin. And a few years beforehand, in 1838, Saleh had already tried his hand at a posthumous portrait, this time of the governor-general Hermann Willem Daendels: a painting now in the Rijksmuseum. It was in fact a genre he had mastered with his first teacher, the Belgian artist Antoine Payen, though a far cry from his other spectacular compositions imbued with exoticism, highly popular with European audiences of the time. In Dresden (a town he moved to after a period in Holland before returning to his native Indonesia), Saleh's style became more assertive, with a lighter touch and firmer line. He copied Rubens and was well-known to court circles, who particularly liked his tiger hunts and battle scenes. Here the reduced palette evokes the portraits of Delacroix, as does the mixture of determination and nonchalance often found in pictures of artists. Coincidentally, at the same period last year, a "Bull Hunt" by Raden Saleh garnered a spectacular bid when it was knocked down for over €8.6 M by the same auction house to a collector and compatriot, who had made a special trip from Djakarta.

tableaux anciens, arts décoratifs du XXe
Saturday 26 January 2019 - 14:30 (CET)
8, rue du docteur Joseph-Audic, zone d'activités du Ténénio - 56001 Vannes
Jack-Philippe Ruellan
Gazette Drouot
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