Hendrick De Clerck (ca. 1560-1630) might best be described as Albert and Isabella’s spin-doctor. This Brussels painter began his meteoric career as the court painter to Ernest of Austria and later to Archdukes Albert and Isabella. He painted an inspiring oeuvre under their patronage, ranging from impressive altarpieces to mythological paintings made in collaboration with Denijs Van Alsloot or Jan – Velvet – Brueghel.
These elegant representations are not merely pretty wall decorations for the royal palaces in the Netherlands and further afield. They might also rightly be described as political propaganda avant-la-lettre. His propagandist visual language was extremely successful. His works catalogue almost every theme and visual device used by absolutist monarchs in the following century. And even more strikingly, these topics and visual strategies continue to live on today.