Flemish painter. The son of a farmer, he studied at the Academie in Ghent. He exhibited for the first time in 1802 at the Ghent Salon, then left for Paris where he was admitted into Jacques-Louis David
s studio. In 1804 his Judgement of Paris (Ghent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten) obtained a prize at the Ghent Salon. The first of numerous commissions that followed was for St Colette (1806; Ghent, St Baaf), which was in keeping with the contemporary Historicist vogue. In 1808 he was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Empress Josephine (Ghent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten), and in the same year the town of Ghent granted him an allowance for four years of study in Rome where, with other former pupils of David, he took part in the decoration of the Palazzo del Quirinale; his contribution, Augustus Ordering the Adornment of Rome, is untraced. While in Italy he also painted a Neoclassical Invention of the Cross (1812; Ghent, St Michel), inspired by Raphael.
In 1812 he returned to Ghent and in 1815 moved to Brussels to paint the portrait of William, Prince of Orange (1818; Brussels, Hôtel de Ville). He painted several religious subjects, including a Crucifixion (1817; Sleidinge, St Joris) and the Disciples at Emmaus (Everghem Church), which have links with the 17th-century French tradition. Among the portraits he executed in this period is the Snoy Family (1818; private collection), a painting that attempts to create a new iconography in its reversal of traditional postures: it is the wife who stands, denoting authority, while the husband sits in a relaxed pose. In 1820 he began working on lighter mythological subjects, such as Eros and Fair Anthia
(both Ghent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten). In a similar vein, his Toilet of Psyche (1823; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum) was highly influenced by David. He later returned to religious subjects (e.g. Flight into Egypt, 1829; Mechelen, St Katelijne), emphasizing emotional expression, even sentimentality, and in doing so he joined a populist tendency in religious art. In such late works as the Abdication of Charles V (1832) Paelinck attempted to satisfy current Romantic taste, but the painting was badly received, and his reputation continued to decline until his death.