He was born at Baeza in Andalusia. He studied at Rome, it is said under Michelangelo, and assisted Giorgio Vasari in painting the hall of the Palazzo della Cancelleria. He also contributed to the anatomical plates of Juan Valverde de Amusco's Historia de la composicion del cuerpo humano (Rome, 1556). After his return to Spain he was extensively employed by Philip II, and decorated many of the rooms in the palace at Madrid with frescoes. He also painted altar-pieces for several of the churches, most of which have been destroyed. His fame as a sculptor almost surpassed that as a painter. His best work was a magnificent figure of the Virgin Mary, which was destroyed during the French war. He became court painter at Madrid in 1563, and played a prominent part in the establishment of the fine arts in Spain.
Among his pupils were Miguel Barroso, who worked at Toledo in 1585, and, after becoming royal painter in 1589, painted some frescoes in the El Escorial; Bartolomé del Río Bernuís; Francisco López and Jerónimo Vázquez.