The Arrest of Diponegoro: Visual Orientalism and Its Alternative

in Seen and Unseen: Visual Cultures of Imperialism

Abstract

Nineteenth century European production in the visual arts included the depiction of the Arab East and West as well as the Ottoman lands and Iran. As is typical of Orientalist art, Arabs and other Muslims were generally depicted as not only exotic but also erotic. Well-known Orientalist painters include Anne-Louis Girodet (1767-1824); Antoine-Jean Gros (1771–1835); Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867); Eugene Delacroix (1798–1863); John Frederick Lewis (1804-76) and William Holman Hunt (1827–1910). While much of the attention to Orientalist paintings is directed to the Middle East and North Africa, this chapter brings focus to another part of the so-called Orient, Indonesia during Dutch colonial rule. It discusses a specific case of Orientalist paintings from the Dutch East Indies of the nineteenth century, that of the Dutch painter, Nicolaas Pienaman’s (1809-1860) depiction of the arrest of the Indonesian hero, Pangeran Diponegoro (1785-1855). This painting is compared to the work of the Indonesian painter, Raden Salleh (1811-1880), whose painting of the same event suggests a counter-Orientalist view.

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