Born in Gouda, his age was given as 41 in 1564 and as 61 at his death. His early training is not known, but he had come while young to Bruges where he joined the guild in 1543. He painted portraits, altarpieces and maps, and devised decorative schemes, of which the most important was for the Triumphal Entry of Charles V and Philip II into Bruges in 1549.
His Italianate mannerist style was paralleled in Antwerp by Frans Floris, under whom his son, Frans the elder, was to study. He died in Bruges on 30 January 1584.