Born of Huguenot parents in Rouen; they brought him to England in 1568 to escape religious persecution. He became the pupil of Nicholas Hilliard, and by the end of the century was beginning to outstrip his master in popularity. He was connected by marriage with a number of the outstanding families of expatriate painters, who made up a large part of the London artistic community in the late Elizabethan and the Jacobean eras, such as the Gheeraerts and the de Critzes. He visited Venice in 1596 and acquired a more cosmopolitan manner than Hilliard. He was attached to the Households of Queen Anne of Denmark and Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. He died two years before Hilliard, and was succeeded in his profession by his son, Peter Oliver (c.1594– 1674).