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Petrus Henricus Theodorus (Pierre) Tetar van Elven was born in Molenbeek, near Brussels, Belgium on 30 August 1828, the son of Johannes Baptist Tetar van Elven. He was first a pupil of the Amsterdam Academie voor Beeldende Kunst (Academy for Visual Art) and later, of the Academy in The Hague. He lived and worked in Amsterdam, Milan, Rome, Paris and Turin. In 1861, he married an Italian and died in Milan on 5 January 1908.