REYNIER VAN DER LAECK (The Hague c. 1615/20 – c.1648 The Hague)

Reynier van der Laeck

Reynier van der Laeck (The Hague c. 1615/20 – c.1648 The Hague)

Landscape with the Bad Shepherd

Oil on panel, 39.4 x 59.8 cm (15.5 x 23.5 inch); contained in a Dutch 18th-century darkwood frame with carved and gilded inner slip

Signed ‘RvLaeck’ (lower left)

The reverse of the panel inscribed ‘Joh. 10. 11-15.’ (black paint)

Private collection, The Netherlands


Little is known of the life of Reynier van der Laeck.1 He is thought to have been born between 1615 and 1620 in The Hague, where he married Beatrix de Backere in 1637. In 1639, whilst living in the house of Willem van Diest on the Veerkade, he was a member of the Guild of St Luke, although it is not clear when he joined the guild. He then moved to the house of the printer Aert Meurs in the Venestraat, where he remained until May 1646. He was last mentioned in a lawsuit in 1647 and his wife was mentioned as a widow in the following year, when he must have died.

Van der Laeck painted Italianate landscapes with relious and mythological subjects in the manner of Cornelis van Poelenburgh (1594–1667), whose pupil he may have been. In his turn, he taught his daughter Maria van der Laeck – she exhibited a painting of a nymph with a bow and arrow in the Confrerie Pictura in The Hague in 1663, which must have been much influenced by the works of her father.2 In addition, five portraits by her are mentioned in the estate of her mother.3

The present recently discovered signed work by Van der Laeck illustrates the influence of Poelenburgh in the glowing Southern landscape and the Classical depiction of the religious theme. Although taken from the Bible, the subject – rarely depicted in Golden Age painting, possibly uniquely so –, depicts the theme of the bad shepherd (as opposed to the Good Shepherd, Christ), yet in atmosphere the painting is wholly mythological. The strong contract between the dark hill and the shrubberies in the foreground, known as repoussoir elements, and the lighter middle and background is typical for the artist.

Paintings by Reynier van der Laeck are excessively rare, only a dozen or so are known today. Our work can be compared to the artist’s Death of Pyramus in the collection of the Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte in Oldenburg (fig.).4

This painting is entered in the databases of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (RKD) in The Hague under artwork no. 274133.


1. For the artist, see H.E. van Gelder, ‘Reinier van der Laeck’, Oud-Holland 46 (1929), pp. 44-48 and Edwin Buijsen and Charles Dumas (eds.), Haagse schilders in de Gouden Eeuw: het Hoogsteder Lexicon van alle schilders werkzaam in Den Haag 1600-1700, The Hague 1998, p. 322.
2. Buijsen and Dumas, op. cit. p. 322.
3. Buijsen and Dumas, loc. cit.
4. Oil on panel, 42.4 x 65.2 cm.