SINGAPORE - A painting by 19th-century Indonesian master Raden Saleh which was rediscovered in a French home last August sold for €7.2 million (S$11.7 million) under the hammer in Vannes, France, last Saturday (Jan 27).
Auctioneer Jack-Philippe Ruellan told The Straits Times that the winning bid was placed by an Indonesian collector who wishes to remain anonymous. His e-mailed statement added that this was a record price for a painting by Raden.
In 1996, Christie's auctioned the artist's The Deer Hunt here for $3.08 million.
The oil painting in last Saturday's auction, titled La Chasse au Taureau Sauvage (Banteng), or Banteng Hunt, is believed to have been done by Raden in 1855, according to the signature. Like many of his other works, it depicts the hunting of a wild animal - in this case a wild bull in Java, attacked by the painter himself on horseback with others.
The painting is believed to have been commissioned by 19th-century sugar trader Jules Stanislas Sigisbert Cezard, who was born in Batavia, the capital of the then Dutch East Indies. The artwork was discovered last year by a family who called in Mr Ruellan and French gallery Cabinet Turquin for assistance in assessing it.
The auction last Saturday began with two Indonesian bidders in the room and 12 phone bidders calling in. In an interview with The Jakarta Post last week, Mr Ruellan said the reserve price of the painting would be €200,000 but within seconds of the auction starting, the price had jumped dramatically.
"We began with €200,00 and 30 seconds later, we were at €1.5 million," he said, adding, "This is a record for a Raden Saleh painting and Indonesian paintings in general."
Raden, who was born in 1811 and died in 1880, is widely recognised as the first major modern artist from Indonesia. Trained in Europe, he used Western techniques of painting but his themes were regional.
An exhibition of his work is on display until March 11 at the National Gallery Singapore's Between Worlds: Raden Saleh And Juan Luna exhibition, along with the paintings of his contemporary, Filipino artist Juan Luna (1857-1899).