Marcus Geeraerts arrived in London in 1568 after leaving Bruges where his father, Marcus Geeraerts the Elder, had been active as a painter and printmaker. Marcus the Younger went on to obtain many commissions from the English courts of Elizabeth I and James I, both for portraits and for decorative work. In the royal accounts for 1596-8, Geeraerts was mentioned in connection with projects including coaches and carriages.
He is best known, however, as one of the most prolific portrait painters of the late Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, with his earliest portraits dating from the 1590s. His style adhered to the aesthetic endorsed by Queen Elizabeth I which favoured elaborate detail and stylised facial types over interests in realism, a formula which he continued into the Jacobean period.
Geeraerts became the favourite painter of Anne of Denmark, the wife of James I, and he received his last recorded payments for royal portraits in 1618. Following Anne’s death in 1619, the arrival of a new generation of artists saw Geeraerts’ popularity wane at court, his sitters then increasingly coming from the English gentry and academic circles.