Under the direction of his father Pieter Claesz., Nicolaes Berchem began his artistic career in Haarlem at the age of fourteen. He acquired the surname Berchem while a young pupil in the studio of Jan van Goyen. After studying with Cornelis van Poelenburgh and Jan van Goyen, well-known Dutch landscape painters, Berchem adopted a classicizing manner and joined the second generation of Dutch Italianates. These painters' depictions of the Italian countryside bathed in warm southern light were in great demand in Holland. Although Dutch consumers admired his paintings for their evocative Italian settings, scholars are uncertain whether Berchem ever actually visited Italy. He may have simply based his paintings on drawings by artists who did visit Italy. At the age of fifty-seven, he settled in Amsterdam, where he continued to paint Italianate landscapes until his death. He created over eight hundred paintings in his lifetime.