There is an uncertainty regarding the birth date of Marten van Cleve. The presumed date derives from a document dated 1567 in which he declares his age to be forty. He became a master in the St Lukes Guild in Antwerp in 1551-1552, and after that studied the works of Frans Floris together with his brother. He sat up his workshop in Antwerp around the mid 1550s, where he had several students, most likely including his sons Marten the Younger and Gillis II. During the 1560s and 70s the studio was very productive, although most of the works executed were copies of his own originals.