CLEVE, Marten van I
(b. ca. 1527, Antwerpen, d. ca, 1581, Antwerpen)
Flemish painter, part of a family of painters of from the South Netherlands who moved from Cleve to Antwerp in the late 15th or early 16th century. He was the son of Willem I van Cleve (active 1518-1549 in Antwerp). He became a master of the Guild of Saint Luke in 1551-52 and, according to his biographer Carel van Mander, entered the workshop of Frans Floris in circa 1553-55. He eventually set up his own studio around 1556 which was highly productive in the 1560s and 1570s. Fully authenticated works by van Cleve are rare; among these are two paintings in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, one of which is dated 1566, and another signed and dated work from 1579 in the collection of The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
Van Cleve was a contemporary of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and, while his subject matter and style were clearly influenced by him, his reputation as simply a Bruegel follower is unwarranted. He devised his own compositions, some now known only through drawings, which proved to be very popular and were even copied by artists of the next generation, such as Pieter Brueghel the Younger.