(b ?Cleves, c.1480/90; d Antwerp, c.1540/1). Netherlandish painter, presumably from Cleves in the lower Rhine region, active mainly in Antwerp, where he became a member of the painters' guild in 1511. He seems to have become one of the city's leading painters, but his eclectic style and the lack of documented works mean that his career is ill-defined. There is a flavour of Leonardo in some of his paintings, and he may have visited Italy.
Almost certainly he worked in France at some time in the period 1529–35 (when he is not recorded in Antwerp), and he possibly visited England at about the same point, as a portrait of Henry VIII (c.1535) in the Royal Collection is attributed to him. According to van Mander he sometimes collaborated with the landscape painter Joachim Patinir: a Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Mus. Royaux, Brussels) is probably a joint work. The large output from his studio consisted mainly of religious works, particularly pictures of the Virgin and Child and the Holy Family (Virgin and Child with Angels, c.1520–5, Walker AG, Liverpool). Joos's son, Cornelis van Cleve (1520–c.1570), was also a painter. He was known as ‘Sotte Cleve’ (Mad Cleve) after becoming insane in 1556—evidently a result of failing to win the patronage of Philip II of Spain (see Habsburg).
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)