The figure painter Marten van Cleve the Elder came from a family of Southern Dutch painters who had moved from Cleves to Antwerp in the late 15th or early 16th century. Born in Antwerp in 1527, Marten van Cleve was recorded as the master son of the Guild of Saint Luke in 1551/52. According to Van Mander, around 1553−55 he followed his older brother, the landscape and veduta painter Hendrick van Cleve III, into the workshop of Frans Floris. On 7th January 1556 Marten van Cleve married Maria de Greve and at the same time began to run his own workshop, which was extremely productive in the 1560/70s, not least through the production of copies of his own compositions. Van Cleve's pupils and workshop staff included five apprentices in the Liggeren, most probably his four sons, and according to Van Mander Hans Jordaens I, Van Cleve died of gout in 1581. On 24th November 1581 his estate was probated and split up.