Philips Wouwerman was born in Haarlem, Netherlands, in May 1619. Little is known of his early life. His father was a painter; however, some scholars suggest that Wouwerman may have studied art under Frans Hals, although his style would not leave a mark in Wouwerman’s future artwork.
In 1638, the artist left the Netherlands for Hamburg for a brief period. The reason was to marry a Catholic girl, against the wishes of his deeply Protestant family. Also, during a period of his stay in Hamburg, Wouwerman worked in the studio of Evert Decker, an obscure German history painter, before returning to the Netherlands with his wife in 1640.
At the age of 20, Wouwerman joined the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke and soon took on several official commissions. His career started with simple genre scenes depicting everyday life. His production from de the mid-1640s is very characteristic, often representing a diagonal slope, a tree on the edge of the composition, serving as a sort of frame, and figures often accompanied by horses.
Philips Wouwerman was a prominent and active member of both the civic and artistic communities of the city of Haarlem. In 1646, the artist was elected as an important member of the Saint Luke’s Guil; and from 1642 to 1655, he served at the St. George’s or Sint Joris’ militia company.
His depictions of varied breeds of horses were so precise, even in motion, that some art historians regard Wouwerman as one of the most successful and accomplished Dutch horse painter from the 17th-century.
The artist and his wife, Annetje van Broeckhof, had several offspring, of whom only seven survived. Philips Wouwerman died on May 19, 1668, and was interred at the Protestant church of Nieuwe Kerk in Haarlem.
Although Wouwerman did not die particularly old, he was a highly prolific artist who produced over a thousand artworks bearing his name. However, as only a limited number of his pictures are dated, scholars could not develop an exact chronology to his oeuvre.