Little is known about Hendrick de Clerck's training. One of the generation of late Flemish Mannerists immediately preceding Rubens, along with such artists as Otto van Veen and Abraham Janssens, he is recorded in Rome in 1587 working with his compatriot Frans van de Casteele. His style is close to that of Marten de Vos who was traditionally thought to have been his teacher, but he probably trained with Joos van Winghe in Italy. He returned to Brussels where he worked as a court painter to the governors of the southern Netherlands, where he was a member of the painters' guild. His eminent position within the guild was affirmed in 1594 when he was appointed court painter in Brussels, first to Archduke Ernest and after his death to the new Archduke, Albert and Isabella. That Hendrick de Clerck was a much sought after figure painter is also illustrated by his collaboration with Jan Breughel I for whom he painted the figures in landscapes.