Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder was born in Antwerp but he and his family were among the many Protestant refugees who fled to the Northern Netherlands in response to religious persecution. They settled in Middelburg in Zeeland in about 1587.
He began his training in Antwerp and joined the Middelburg guild as a master in 1593. He specialised in painting precise flower and fruit still lifes, in the manner of botanical illustrations but grouped in compositions, which carefully balance form and colour.
His brother-in-law Balthasar van der Ast and his three sons, Ambrosius the Younger, Johannes, and Abraham were all trained by him.
Having spent three years in Utrecht between 1615 and 1618, Bosschaert moved to Breda in 1619.
In 1621, he travelled to The Hague to deliver a flower painting to the Prince of Orange's Chamberlain, for which he received the extraordinary sum of 1,000 guilders. He died in The Hague the same year.