(b Rotterdam, 1591/2; d Rotterdam, 23 Sept. 1624).
Dutch painter and etcher, nicknamed ‘Geestige Willem’ (Witty, or Inventive, William). He was active in Rotterdam and in Haarlem, where he is said to have been friendly with Frans Hals. Although his surviving output as a painter is tiny (about ten pictures), he is one of the most interesting artists during the first years of the great period of Dutch painting. His pictures of dandies, fashionable ladies, topers, and lusty wenches are among the most spirited Dutch genre scenes, and instituted the category known as the ‘Merry Company’ (Merry Company, Boymans Mus., Rotterdam). His etchings are more numerous, and include genre scenes, fashion plates, and views of the Dutch countryside. He had an important influence on painting in Haarlem. His posthumously born son Willemthe Younger (1625–70) was also a painter. An example of his very rare work—a landscape—is in the National Gallery, London.