Now almost a forgotten master, the artist must have had considerable success as a painter in his own day. Active in Utrecht, where he was member of the Artist's society Kunstliefde he exhibited for several consecutive years in the Tentoonstelling van Levende Meesters in Amsterdam from 1818 - 1822. It was the time after the French occupation, when an ative debate took place what direction the development of the arts should take in the Netherlands. Some preferred the inspiration from the great Italian and French masters from the past; others were in the opinion that Dutch painting should revitalise itself by taking the Dutch Masters of the Golden Age as their source of inspiration.
The present lot shows that Geelen belonged to the latter group, as it shows both in subject matter and in style indebtness to Jan Steen, who had painted several versions of classrooms throughout his careers. See his pictures of 1663/5 in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (K.Braun, Alle tot nu toe bekende werken van Jan Steen, 1980, no.198, ill.) and of 1670/2 in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (K.Braun, op.cit., no.335, ill.).