Lot 56
Indonesian Art Sale | 18 November 2020
Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978)

'Devi Sita' / Goddess Sita

titled, annotated and signed 'Devi Sita / Wajang Wong, Kampong / Mas Bali / R. Bonnet'

pencil and coloured chalk, heightened in white, on paper, 68x47 cm

Provenance: -Roland van den Berg (1930-2019), head of Cultural and Press affaires at the Netherlands Embassy Jakarta (1969-1973), a gift to his eldest son, 1998, by whom offered in this sale.

The present lot bears the title 'Devi Sita', the wife of King Rama from the story of the Ramayana.

This exceptional drawing by Rudolf Bonnet was acquired by Roland van den Berg in 1973 and it was displayed at his home in Brussels as shown in a photograph taken in May 1977. Roland van den Berg was stationed at the Netherlands embassy in Jakarta from 1969 to 1973 and served as the head of Cultural and Press affairs. It was in his capacity as cultural attaché that he could have met Rudolf Bonnet during one of his last trips to Indonesia. This drawing has been purchased during his service in Jakarta. After serving in Indonesia and several other posts, Roland van den Berg became the Ambassador to China, a country where he was born and lived as his father Jan van den Berg had been posted in China and was stationed in Chongqing, the wartime capital of China in the 1940’s.

Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978) first came to Bali in 1929, at the suggestion of W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp after the two met in Italy. In Bali, Rudolf Bonnet was pleasantly surprised that he could easily find models to sit for his drawings. It was in 1933 that Rudolf Bonnet made his famous drawing, Arjuna Wiwaha, now in the collection of the Neka Museum in Ubud, Bali. That drawing was so iconic that it was reproduced on the front cover of the booklet for the Rudolf Bonnet Foundation. It is clear that the present drawing, although illustrating a different story, is of the same model as the female character in his 1933 drawing of Arjuna Wiwaha. The resemblance is uncanny.

In the present lot, Devi Sita is posed alone and becomes the centre of attention. Her golden crown and long hair are adorned with frangipani petals and she is dressed in a royal robe matching her beauty. Bonnet noted that this scene was taken from a performance of “Wayang Wong” in the Village of Mas, near Ubud. Wayang Wong is a Javanese dance enacting the drama taken either from the Indian epic Mahabharata or Ramayana. In this drawing Sita is portrayed as a pensive and graceful Queen, as opposed to the portrayal of Suprabha seducing Arjuna in meditation in the 1933 drawing.

Bonnet drew other versions of Arjuna in meditation in 1953 and 1975, but without the inclusion of the Aspara Suprabha. The uncanny resemblance provides evidence that Bonnet used the same model for Devi Sita, and furthermore, the present lot is unique because it is the only drawing known by Bonnet that depicts Sita as the reincarnation of Suprabha.

Peter S. Widagdo, October 2020

Voor deze kunstenaar is volgrecht van toepassing vanaf een hamerprijs van € 2400.

€ 40.000,00
€ 60.000,00
€ 70.000,00

Hamerprijs: € 70.000