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PASCUUM OF SATANAS

The case of the disappearing right panel of the diptych 'Pascuum ofSatanas' or 'Pascuum of Haides' referred to more commonly, today, as'The Pastures of Satan' or 'Fields of Hell' (1703 oil on wooden panels56" x 128") by the Dutch artist Hans Van Vfeete (Leyden 1654 — St Louis1738/9). Van Vfeete was know to have studied in the studio of Jan Steenand based this powerful diptych on Steen's 'The Merry Family', though,of course, with a much sinister and more darkly disturbing message. Foryears powerful clerics and other educated men refused to even discussthe implications of this extraordinary work.

The last Van Vfeete work to be sold was a domestic study titled 'EnglishChamber Pots' — bought by A. van der Hoop from John Mathew Beetsoff,London, in 1833. Van Vfeete only ever recorded 31 finished oilpaintings, 10 watercolours and 65 drawings and 'acquaints'. Due tosuperstition, and loose talk, a rumour of ambiguous fortune has alwaysfollowed those who collected Vfeets's works. (see report in 'TheGentleman's magazine', London July/1812 — 'Cursed Work of Dutch Master?')thus the paintings were rarely displayed to the public gaze.

A recent estimate of a single panel of the diptych based on inflationand the current interest in mystical works of the eighteenth century hasvalued the work, not in the millions, but in the 'hundreds of millions'.... It is thought the piece is, most assuredly, lying undiscoveredeither in America or rural France.

The diptych 'Pascuuum of Satanas' was his largest and most perplexingpiece though only the one panel was recovered after the original theftof the painting in 1885; and that was extensively damaged by thewarehouse fire of 1889. Acccording to early descriptions (Boston WeelkyRecorder) of the missing panel it is of 'breathtaking beauty and sublimeevil' depending on the 'moral purity of the spectator'. All thatremains are the fragments shown on the web site. The search for thesecond panel was largely forgotten until a PhD student researching thebackground of a female circus acrobat referred to in JORIS-KARLHUYSMAN'S 'Against Nature' unearthed a revealing document (theattachment on the site is the relevant translated excerpt).

This mysterious and well travelled artist (Van Vfeete) was, according toother Jan Steen pupils, one of the schools most promising students andsubsequently was admitted the Leyden Guild at a record early age (17years and 9 months). However, upon the tragic death of his sister (4years) who drowned upsidedown in a pail while attempting to recover asmall frog, and his mother who was mistakenly strangled as a witch, bothof whom he adored, he joined the Puritans in Bristol before travellingto the New World in the 'Americas'. It was, however, after he grewdisillusioned by the strict Puritan rules regarding the painting ofreligious scenes or the making of idols, that he left the society andpainted his famous diptych.

      — John Hagan