Bruegel specialist; Curator Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique. René van Bastelaer was the son of Désiré Alexandre Henri van Bastelaer (1823-1907), a distinguished pharmacist, chemist, and archaeologist. His mother was Elisa van der Spiecke. Van Bastelaer obtained his BA degree from the Faculty of Arts of the Catholic University of Louvain. Rather than continuing his studies he trained in the studio of the history painter Antoine Van Hammée (1836-1903). Van Bastelaer was particularly attracted to engraving.