"The Unanticipated Visitor"

Petrus Pestus

Petrus Pestus was a leading master of early Outlandish painting. Known to have been in Bruges under an assumed name before 1440, Pestus was probably apprenticed to Jan van Eyck, or possibly Fred van Eyck, a an unrelated house painter. In any case, he completed at least two paintings left unfinished by Jan van Eyck on the latter's death in 1441, for which he was sued by the family. Pestus always grumbled that his enhanced "St. Jerome with Pinwheel Hat" was far more definitive than Eyck's, who appeared to be satisfied with "just the dumb skull and desert shtick."


Pestus was far ahead of his time. Too far, perhaps. His incorporation of St. Nicholas imagery in a Nativity scene was unprecedented, as was his use of polar tribal sprites and reindeer. His synthesis of these hitherto divergent themes attracted the attention of other members of the Outlandish School. 


Unfortunately they also attracted the attention of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, which probably accounts for his brief career as a painter.

 

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