Aert van der Neer was a landscape painter born in 1603 or 1604, probably in Amsterdam. He is generally known as Aert van der Neer but signed his works as Aernout. He spent his early years in Arkel near Gorinchem, employed as a valet for a wealthy family. In Arkel he made contact with the artist brothers Jochem and Rafael Govertsz. Camphuysen and the latter may have given him lessons. Van der Neer married Lysbeth Govertsz. and moved to Amsterdam around 1632. The first dated work by the artist is a genre scene of 1632 (Naródní Gallery, Prague) while his first landscape dates from 1633, painted in collaboration with Jochem Camphuysen. Aert van der Neer’s early landscapes are clearly influenced by the work of the two Camphuysen brothers, particularly Rafael.
From the early 1640s Van der Neer introduced into his work elements typical of the “tonal” landscape style developed by Jan van Goyen, Salomon van Ruysdael and Pieter de Molijn. In the mid-1640s he developed his own style and specialised in winter scenes, snowstorms, and nocturnal compositions, particularly rivers illuminated by moonlight and sunsets. His landscapes tend to use a slightly elevated viewpoint and include a river or path that leads into the background as it narrows. His studies of light are his most important contribution to Dutch landscape painting.
Aert van der Neer’s best works were painted from the mid-1640s until around 1660. Between 1659 and 1662 he is documented as an innkeeper on the Klaverstraat in Amsterdam where he died in 1677. Two of his sons became painters. The elder, Eglon Hendrick van der Neer, was noted as a genre painter while the younger, Johannes van der Neer, focused on landscape, imitating his father’s work.