Jan Frans van Geel

The Abduction of Ganymede

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 neoclassicistic 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 РPrentenkabinet (Antwerp).

The present work, a small-scale terracotta, depicts the mythological story of the abduction of Ganymede. Jupiter, who despite his wife Juno’s complaints could not help give in to the occasional crush, fell head over heels for the young Ganymede, the most beautiful of mortals. While Ganymede was tending sheep on mount Ida, near Troy, Jupiter turned himself into an eagle – his characteristic animal – and abducted him to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus.

Artist: Jan-Frans van Geel (Mechelen 1756 - 1830 Antwerp)
Medium: terracotta
Dimensions: 28 cm