Hendrick de Clerck was born in Brussels about 1570. He was probably the pupil of Marten de Vos in Antwerp and possibly also of Joos van Winghe in Brussels. In 1587, he was working in Rome with the Brussels painter, Frans van de Kasteele. He was back in Brussels by 1590, where he painted his first known dated work, a triptych depicting the Holy Kinship. In 1594, he was appointed court painter to the Archduke Ernest and after the latter’s death the following year, Ernest’s brother, the Emperor Rudolf II, interceded on de Clerck’s behalf and arranged for him to serve in the same capacity for the new Archdukes, Albert and Isabella. He was later a member of the Brussels painters’ guild, where his pupil, Jan van Overstraeten, was registered from 1601 to 1611. In 1609, de Clerck and Wenceslas Cobergher were commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the oratorium in the archducal palace in Brussels, subsequently largely destroyed by fire in the eighteenth century. He worked in Brussels for the rest of his career and died there in 1629: he was buried in the Church of Saint-Géry in Brussels on 27 August 1630. The artist’s widow survived him by more than a decade, dying on 14 October 1641. De Clerck’s son, Jacob, was also a painter and became a master in the Brussels guild of St. Luke in 1634.
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