Verhaecht was born in Antwerp, but spent a good portion of his early years in Florence where he worked for Francesco I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and later in Rome where he was active as a painter of landscape frescoes. He was back in Antwerp by 1590 when he became a master in the Guild of St. Luke. He was also active in one of the city’s chambers of rhetoric, a literary and dramatic society named the Gillyflower, for which he wrote a comedy in 1620. Among his students were his son, Willem van Haecht II and, briefly, the young Peter Paul Rubens.
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