De Gheyn was born in Antwerp and received his first training from his father, Jacob de Gheyn I, a glass painter, engraver, and draftsman. In 1585, he moved to Haarlem, where he studied under Hendrik Goltzius for the next five years. He moved again, to Leiden, in the middle of the 1590s. His work attracted the attention of wealthy sponsors, and his first commission was for an engraving of the Siege of Geertruidenberg from Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. This event from March 27 to June 24, 1593, had been more of a demonstration of power by Prince Maurits, than an actual war, and had even attracted tourists. As a publicity stunt, the siege and its subsequent engraving were successful in propagating an image of Prince Maurits as an able general.
Around 1600, de Gheyn abandoned engraving, and focused on painting and...See author's sheet: Jacob de Gheyn II