The sketch served as a model for a monumental work on the ceiling of the Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Antwerp.
In 1620 Rubens ordered 39 large canvasses measuring 3 metres by 4 metres. The Saint Charles Borromeo Church was to be the biggest church in what was then the Spanish Netherlands.
"The monumental canvasses were painted by the whole workshop with the help of Rubens’ apprentices. However, the sketches were painted entirely by Rubens himself, but he refused to sell them”, auctioneer Patrick Deguines told VRT News.
Mr Deguines "Unfortunately the ceiling was destroyed by a fire in 1718”.
"33 sketches had been accounted for most of which are saved in museums. However 6 including this one were missing. It was found recently as part of aan inheritance”.
The sketch is describe as being both rare and valuable. According to the auctioneer it is the first time in 20 years that a comparable work has been sold in France.