Netscher was a painter of German origin, son of the sculptor Johann Netscher and grandson of the mayor of Heidelberg. At an early age he was sent to Amsterdam to begin his training with Hendrik Coster, a little known painter of still lifes and portraits. Around 1664 Netscher moved to Deventer to complete his apprenticeship in the studio of Gerard ter Borch. Having completed his studies he set out for Italy around 1658 but progressed no further than Bordeaux where he married Margaretha Godijn and lived for some years. The family returned to Holland in 1662 and settled in The Hague where Netscher become a member of the painters’ society known as Pictura. During this early phase he painted small genre compositions with a preference for dark colours and themes of everyday life, clearly influenced by Ter Borch. Netscher gradually acquired his own style and in the mid-1660s began to paint more elaborate scenes with sumptuous interiors and richly dressed figures. His works reveal a particular interest in the depiction of silks and brocades, probably influenced by the Leiden painters.
From 1667 onwards Netscher increasingly focused on portraiture. His models conformed to the elegant, aristocratic appearance of the work of Van Dyck’s followers in The Hague. During this period he also produced history paintings, but retained the use of the small format in both genres. Netscher was a highly celebrated portraitist and received numerous important commissions. His sitters included Amalia von Solms, widow of Prince Frederick Henry. Netscher died in The Hague in 1684. His sons Theodorus, Constantijn and Antonie, continued his activities as portraitists.