The pendant of this picture, Moses Striking the Rock, which is signed with initials 'HDC' (lower right), is now in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Horsley and Annie Townsend Fund, no. 69.1624; D. G. Carter, 'Northern Baroque and the Italian Connexion', Apollo, CIII, no. 171, May 1976, p. 392, fig. 1; P.C. Sutton, The Age of Rubens, Boston, 1993, p. 15, fig. 2; van de Velde, loc. cit.). The present pair can be identified as that in a sale in Brussels in 1775 since the subject and size correspond exactly to the description in the catalogue (van de Velde, loc. cit.).
Little is known about Hendrick de Clerck's training. 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 his landscapes.
Although the style of de Clerck is very distinctive the chronology of his oeuvre is still unclear. This picture probably dates from the 1590s when the artist was still working mostly on panel. It can be compared with the Holy Kinship painted for the Church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle in Brussels and dated 1590 (now in Brussels, Muses Royaux des Beaux-Arts, no. 53).