Adriaen van den Werff studied painting with Cornelis Picolet and Eglon van der Neer. Living in Rotterdam, he mainly applied himself to portraiture, genre paintings, and biblical subjects. In 1697, he was appointed court painter in Dusseldorf, where he also became a knight. His interest in genre painting later gave its place to his preoccupation with historical painting.
The characteristic qualities of many of his works are his attention to detail, a most exquisite finish, a vivid, illusionist presence of the object depicted. These qualities of his art were very popular with contemporary theorists and patrons alike, who purchased his works at exceptionally high prices.