Raden Saleh embarked from The Hague on his European tour in May 1839, intending to visit all the great art galleries. He arrived in Dresden in September 1839 after visiting Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Berlin, and would settle here, studying in the Gemäldegalerie and enjoying the patronage and friendship of Ernst I, Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha and his successor Ernst II. In Dresden he played to the Biedermeier crowds, wearing, unlike in the Netherlands, his Javanese national dress, and exhibited 'The Lion Hunt' at the Dresden Academy in 1840 to great acclaim. His sojourn in Germany from 1839 to 1844 has been credited with giving German Orientalist painting an important stimulus (J.M. Nauhaus in the exhibition catalogue, Raden Saleh (1811-1880) Ein javanischer Maler in Europa, Altenburg, 2013, p.7).
Raden Saleh, who has been dubbed 'the father of modern Indonesian painting', was born at Terboyo, in the region of Semerang in 1811. After the early death of his father, he was brought up in the household of his uncle, the enlightened Regent of Semerang. He was given instruction in drawing and painting by the Belgian artist Antoine Payen, who took him to west Java around 1822. He travelled to Holland in 1829 with J.B. de Linge, of the General Directorate of Finances and, with a stipend from the colonial treasury, studied in Amsterdam under Cornelis Kruseman and Andreas Schelfhout. He is thought to have been inspired to paint wild animals, a genre he would champion in his European period, after seeing the animal tamer Henri Martin and his menagerie in The Hague in 1836-7. After his German tour and residence in Dresden, he returned to The Hague, before settling in Paris in 1845.