In 1829 Raden Saleh arrived in Holland. There he received his artistic training from the famous painters Cornelis Kruseman and Andreas Schelfhout in The Hague.
Initially the artist copied principal paintings by 17th Century Dutch masters such as Gerard Dou and Rembrandt. Meanwhile he collected many prints and illustrated books with tigers, lions and horses. Another inspiring visual source were the reproductions after works by the French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix.
In 1836 Raden Salen met the circus master Henri Martin who allowed him to study and sketch his circus lions. There are several so-called 'lion' and 'tiger' compositions by Raden Saleh executed between 1836 and 1839 that are well documented. The picture which is dated 1839 is probably the last one to be painted in the Netherlands as he left the country in May 1839 in order to travel to Dresden and Paris.
The whereabouts of the large canvas was unknown and unrecorded until recently and therefore can be considered a real 'trouvaille'.
In an article Raden Saleh in Den Haag (1965, pp 74-75), Mrs. de Loos-Haaxman writes as follows: Het stuk heeft bij vroegere eigenaars 40 jaar in en hal gehangen en is zeer nagedonkerd...en ofschoon slechts de visuele vorm die van een krachtig neergezette leeuw is en de felle krijsende uitdrukking meer die van een woedend onbeheerst mens dan van een machtig roofdier, is het grote schilderij zeer interessant om wat Raden Saleh in 1839 kon voorbrengen uit eigen aanleg en kracht.
This monumental oil painting is probably the first important work from a series of very romantic and dramatic pictures. It is also a starting point from where he builds up his oeuvre to his characteristic and typical works in which men and animals play the leading role versus the omnipresence of Nature.
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raissoné on Raden Saleh being prepared by Drs. B. van Rijk and Drs. A.B. Montens.
It will also feature in the forthcoming book Java in Pictures in the Nineteenth Century being prepared by Drs. J. Ubbens and Drs. C.Z. Huizing. Drs. W. Rappard has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this present lot "Two Lions and a Snake Fighting"