In the year 1564, Crispijn de Passe was born in Zeeland in the Netherlands. He was educated in the printing and graphic center of the 16th century, Antwerp, and immediately began his professional career. At the latest in 1585, Crispijn de Passe became a member of the Guild of St. Luke, the guild of artists and painters. He worked as an engraver for various publishing houses.
When Catholic Spain conquered Antwerp in 1588, Crispijn de Passe left with his family, going into exile in Cologne. There he founded his own publishing house. De Passe published his own designs, which were engraved by himself or other members of his studio. Cripsijn de Passe's emphasis in his graphic works was on portraits and genre graphics.
In 1611, de Passe left Cologne for religious reasons; this time he relocated his studio to Utrecht. There with Aernout van Buchell (Buchelius), de Passe continued his successful work, which was later taken over by his children. The Crispijn de Passe children worked later on their own in Paris, London, and Copenhagen, carrying the international fame of the de Passe studio with them.
In 1637 Crispijn de Passe died.
His only remaining child, his eldest son Crispijn, was left to continue his father's work. Crispijn de Passe the Younger resettled in Amsterdam but was unable to repeat the success of his father' business; he died in poverty in 1670.