According to art writer Karel van Mander, Hans Bol was born in Mecheln on 16 December 1534, the son of Simon Bol and Catharina van der Stock. Around 1548, his uncles Jan and Jacob I. Bol instructed him in the local painting tradition, using water-soluble pigments on canvas. This technique, comparable to fabric painting, marked the starting point of his artistic development, although only a single work of this kind from his hand has survived (The Hague, Mauritshuis). Numerous drawings and engravings, the earliest of which were produced in the first half of the 1560s, document his fondness for imaginary landscapes. Around 1550, Bol stayed in Heidelberg for roughly two years before joining the Guild of St Luke in Mecheln in 1560. After fleeing from his home town under Spanish occupation in 1572, Bol settled in Antwerp, where he became a master two years later and was accorded citizenship on 16 September 1575. He now specialised in miniature painting. His workshop produced illuminated manuscripts, as a prayer book dated 1582 (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale) attests, as well as animal illustrations. Bol mainly concentrated on small-format cabinet illustrations produced in gouache on parchment and often transferred to wood. In 1584 he again fled from approaching Catholic troops by way of Bergen op Zoom, Dordrecht, and Delft to Amsterdam. He was buried there in the Oude Kerk on 30 November 1593. Among his pupils were Jacob Savery and his stepson Frans Boels, and possibly Joris Hoefnagel as well. An extensive oeuvre of Bol drawings survives, some of which he translated into prints. In addition to imaginary landscapes in the manner of Joachim Patinir, his work includes precise topographical studies.