CLERCK, Hendrik de
(b. ca. 1570, Brussel, d. 1630, Brussel)
Abundance with the Four Elements1606
Oil on copper, 51 x 64 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
In 1606, Hendrik de Clerck became painter to the archducal court in Brussels. Until then he had almost exclusively produced monumental altarpieces and other devotional pictures, now he started to devote himself to painting cabinet pieces. He specialized in biblical scenes, and in particular mythological and allegorical representations for the landscapes of his fellow townsmen Jan Brueghel the Elder and Denis van Alsloot. Three of the compositions painted in collaboration with Van Alsloot bear dates between 1608 and 1611, and the landscapes in the pictures painted with Jan Brueghel the Elder can be securely dated to around 1606-09.
With the minutely finished tree and forest scenes by Brueghel and Van Alsloot, De Clerck's enamel-like mythological nudes, graceful, and often revealing a restrained eroticism, made decorative pictures. In paintings such as the Abundance with the Four Elements, for which Jan Brueghel the Elder painted the surrounding landscape, De Clerck goes back to late Mannerist motifs. He based himself on Parmigianino's style.