Born in Antwerp the eldest of six brothers, all of whom became sculptors of note, Guillaume Geefs (1805-1883) represents 19th century Belgian sculpture at its zenith. Educated at the Antwerp Academy, winning the Grand Prix in 1828, and later in Paris as a pupil of Claude Ramey, Geefs went on to succeed the sculptor Bartolini as chairman of the Institut de France in 1850.
Geefs' minor works include a number of historical portraits, but he is best known for large-scale monuments and memorials. He was thus the natural choice of the city of Antwerp for a statue to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the death of Sir Peter Paul Rubens. Unveiled in 1840, the original, of which the present lot is a reduction, still stands in the Groenplaats opposite the Cathedral of Our Lady in which hangs Rubens' famed triptych, The Raising of the Cross.
This rare bronze has remained in the family of the present owner for the last century. One other example is known to be in the collection of the Rubens House Museum in Antwerp.