Jan-Frans van Geel

Jan-Frans van Geel

An study for an altar and various other studies and designs

Jan-Frans van Geel was born in Mechelen in 1756. He was taught by Willem Jacob Herreyns and, later on, Pieter Valckx. In 1784 he became a faculty member of the Mechelen Academy; later on, he would teach at the Antwerp Academy as well. His students included, among others, Willem Geefs, Louis Royer and Joseph Tuerlinckx. Stylistically, van Geel continued the late Flemish baroque tradition, although he was not wholly unaware of the upcoming neoclassicist movement.

His most important works include the pulpit of the Church of St Andrew in Antwerp, a series of statues of saints for the Church of St Jacob in Antwerp and a series of terracotta bozzetti, religious as well as mythological. For many of his architectural and sculptural projects, van Geel produced sketches and drawings, several of which are kept in the Museum Plantin-Moretus – Prentenkabinet (Antwerp) and the Royal Library (Brussels).

The present series of drawings formed part of the collection of Charles Van Herck, an important Antwerp-based art dealer and auctioneer who specialized in drawings as well as terracottas by Flemish baroque sculptors, amassing a great collection of them during his lifetime. More than forty years after his death, the bulk of his estate was purchased by the King Baudouin Foundation; most of it was given as a loan to major Belgian institutions and museums. However, between the time of Van Herck’s death and the purchase of his estate, a small number of drawings, including the present series, got onto the market.

Together, they show the versatility of van Geel as an artist, not only stylistically – from the very baroque putti intended as church decorations to the neoclassical studies of French Empire motifs – but also in their subject matter: mythological, religious and allegorical themes are all represented in these studies.


Study for the crown of the Virgin Mary, pen and ink and wash on paper, 89 x 87 mm



Jan-Frans van Geel

Putti playing with the club of Hercules in a medallion, pencil on laid paper, 246 x 138 mm


Virgin and Child with putti, bistre on laid paper, 141 x 224 mm






Artist: Jan-Frans van Geel (Mechelen 1756 - 1830 Antwerp)
Medium: pencil on laid paper
Dimensions: 165 x 157 mm
Provenance: From the collection of Charles Van Herck, Antwerp.