Lot 8
Indonesian Art Sale 2018
Isaac Israels (1865-1934)

A Serimpi dancer

signed 'Isaac Israels' (lower left ).
Executed between December 1921 and October 1922, during Israels' stay in the Dutch Indies.

watercolour on paper, 51x41 cm

-Bought by the grandparents of the present owner.

Isaac Israels' first introduction to the Dutch-East-Indies culture took place in 1898 during the National Exhibition depicting women at work in The Hague on the occasion of the inauguration of Queen Wilhelmina. A wooden exposition building was especially constructed for the exhibition on a site between the present Scheveningseweg and the corner of the Stadhouderslaan. In this way the female instigators demonstrated ‘that the Dutch women were already empowered to show their strength and social and public value.’

An important part of the exhibition space was devoted to "Kampong Insulinde’’ to give the visitors an impression of life in Indonesia. The Javanese dances and tones, complemented by Indonesian aromas and tastes made an unforgettable impression on the artist.

In 1916 during two ’’Indonesian Charity Celebrations’’ where Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik were present, Israels saw once again performances of Javanese dance and music, performed by Indonesian students in the Netherlands. Raden Mas Jodjana, one of the students with whom Israels befriended, was often portrayed by Israels in Javanese dance tenue.

It was not until 1921 that Israels went to Indonesia himself. He was afraid of the long boat trip, the sea-sickness, the heat and stench of Batavia whereby he postponed the journey for a long time. After a journey of five weeks, he arrived in Batavia on December 2nd 1921. On recommendation of his friend, Raden Mas Jodjana, related to the Prince of Yogya, Israels was granted permission to paint in the Kraton of Mankoenegara VII, Solo (Surakarta). In 1922 he stayed at the Court for several weeks with intermittent intervals where he probably made the watercolour with the dancers.

Serimpi dancers were a favourite subject matter for Dutch painters and sculptors. Israels portrayed the dancers in the Kraton of Mangkoenegara VII of Surakarta. The Serimpi, just as the Budhaya, is a classic court dance with a sacred character originating from the 17th century. In the past these dances were performed only for the Royal Courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta by princesses. The Serimpi of Yogya has a sturdier and masculine style whilst the Serimpi in Surakarta is more fluid, feminine with slow and gracious movements. These dances were usually performed by four dancers.

'Sri' means prince and 'impi' wish or dream, the wish or dream for serendipity. The Royal House of Mangkoenegara enjoyed good relations with the Dutch Royal family. In 1937, on the evening prior to the wedding of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard, Princess Siti Nurul, the daughter of Mangkoenegara VII, danced for the royal guests at Palace Noordeinde, The Hague.

€ 12.000,00
€ 18.000,00