The Blasters

Charming minature painting of a pretty blue-eyed lady by eighteenth-century artist Peter Paul Lens, devil-worshipper, reprobate and son of the better-known Bernard Lens III.

Lens, who spent some time in Ireland during his misbegotten youth, was a founder member of the now-forgotten Blasters, a Dublin-based Satanist society which, in the course of its short public existence – rumour has it that it survives privately to this day – provoked a House of Lords inquiry, a bishop’s diatribe and the eventual expulsion of Lens to England, where he lived an (apparently) quiet life until his early death in 1747.

He’s now best known for a posthumous appearance in the Barbara Cartland novel ‘A Frame of Dreams’ (entire text, beginning “The Marquis of Ruckford permitted his valet to assist him out of his evening coat,” available here)

Rather unfair since his minatures of women in particular are quite good and seriously under-priced; here’s another one below (click to enlarge).


Another member of the Blasters was the artist James Worsdale, who painted this portrait of its better-known rival in debauchery, the Hell-Fire Club.More about art and Satanism in eighteenth-century Dublin later.  Much later.

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The sibling of daedalus
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19 Responses to The Blasters

  1. maurice says:

    This seems an awful lot like an April Fools post, but it’s the wrong time of year. Satanist miniature portrait painters? In the 18th century? Really? I suppose the portraits are “undervalued” because of a fear of hidden pentagrams, or some other such device, opening portals to worlds of unspeakable evil- right in one’s own drawing room! Really, what art collector would want that.

  2. sdaedalus says:

    an awful lot like an April Fools post….Satanist minature portrait painters? In the 18th century? Really

    Lens’ biographical entry from Dictionary of Irish Painters
    http://www.libraryireland.com/irishartists/peter-paul-lens.php which quotes a House of Lords Committee Report from 1738:-

    “Peter Lens, lately come into this kingdom, professes himself a Blaster and a votary of the devil, and that he hath offered up prayers to him and publicly drunk to the devil’s health, and that he hath several times uttered the most daring and execrable blasphemies.”

    I had obv. like every Dublin schoolchild heard of the Hellfire Club – but not the Blasters, or indeed Mr Lens, until quite recently when one of his minatures came up for auction.

    Lovely work they are indeed :-)

  3. photoncourier says:

    Votaries of the devil….reminds me a bit of this art project.

    http://www.cityonfire.org/

  4. maurice says:

    No wiki entry on the Blasters (not the ones referenced here anyway). I guess I’m having a hard time imagining all my 1970s “Rosemary’s Baby” images of Satanism in the 18th century. Perhaps it was a form of social or intellectual rebellion, and not literally devil worship…-?

  5. maurice says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellfire_Club

    Looks like this phrase describes a handful of 18th-c. clubs which centered around mock-religious ceremonies (including pagan rituals), drinking, and debauchery. So no, no “Omen” or “The Exorcist” stuff. Much more harmless.

    Might be fun to tour those West Wycome Caves in Buckinghamshire- and imagine the goings-on that once happened there.

  6. anplayer says:

    rumour has it that it survives privately

    My recollection is they meet in Buswells hotel of a Sabbath evening, opposite the Masonic Hall like.

    Not that I was a member or anything

  7. Default User says:

    It seems that the Hellfire club in Dublin was destroyed by… fire. There was no mention of damage by cloven hooves, though.

    I notice that Firepower has not commented, yet. His older gravatar would well suit this post.

  8. sdaedalus says:

    @David

    Thanks for that link – great art project, although the insurance on it must have been quite high :-)

    @Maurice

    Not harmless at all, the founder of the Dublin Hellfire Club, the Earl of Rosse, was a very serious Satanist and published a number of books on the topic.

    The Limerick Hell-Fire Club, now that was just boozing…

    I would love to go to West Wycombe myself.

    @Default

    They set a footman on fire in the 1740s I think and in true horror movie form it resulted in the entire place being burnt down and the loss of many of the members (although the leader, Richard ‘Burn-Chapel’ Whaley, escaped by jumping through a window). That was basically the end of the First Generation of the Hellfire Club, it revived in the next generation (post coming up).

    Firepower is unscrupulously angling for more comments on his blog, and has reproached me for not being prolific enough – if you go over there perhaps he’ll comment here…

    http://www.eradica.wordpress.com

  9. Alathea says:

    Your mention of my temporary master, Lord Satan, resulted in a message being sent to me via the infernal delivery system (which is most definitely NOT “electronic mail”), summoning me to attend on this “blog.” You may remember that I have visited here before and that I am presently resident in Purgatory where, as a partial penance for my many sins I am required to read thousands of these “blogs” and “Facebook pages,” as I was for hundreds of years previously required to read vast oceans of correspondence.

    I had hoped to find some evidence here of either serious sin that I could report to Lord Satan as encouraging news, or of serious repentance so that countermeasures can be taken, but I see little of such–except that the name used by the one who calls himself “Firepower” may offer some encouragement, depending on to what type of fire he may be referring.

    Alathea, in Purgatory

    • sdaedalus says:

      @Alathea

      Lovely to hear from you at purgatory.net.

      My memory may not be fully exact, but I think you’re the medieval lady with a complicated love life who commented on my Droit de Seigneur post about two years ago?

      Just give me the backstory again…

  10. Alathea says:

    Yes, it is I who wrote at your Droit de Seigneur post. Sadly I cannot remember which of my many sins I divulged to you at that time–there have been SO many, as I have had centuries to contemplate–and the scribes who for THEIR penance are required to make “backup copies” of such correspondence have misplaced the papers again.

    Alathea, in Purgatory

  11. sdaedalus says:

    I think you got involved in some sort of menage a trois with a seigneur and an artisan, as far as I remember, ending tragically (suicide?).

  12. Alathea says:

    Indeed, I was subject to Droit de Seigneur, but that was only a minor sin as it was required of all (attractive) girls, which I most definitely was. (Sadly I am not yet purged of the sin of VANITY, which here below ranks quite closely with LUST.) The sin on that occasion was that I did not suffer during my tryst with the Seigneur, but rather ENJOYED it, which according to the priest was forbidden.

    I did not take my own life, though; that level of the sin of DESPAIR is one of which even I am not capable.

  13. sdaedalus says:

    which I most definitely was

    I know. I remember you had all my male commenters a-flutter last time you were on and rather ENJOYED it too.

  14. Blue Blazer says:

    In the early-eighties, The Blasters were a neopunk,neo-Clash band which all obligarily ANGRY!fifteen-yearold American boys admired. I was prepared to post this Comment five months ago. I considered it rather dull and unworthy. I no longer do….

  15. Blue Blazer says:

    “..post-punk..” As are all ‘..early to mid-thirties..’ bloggers.

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