Son of the painter David de Heem (1570-1632), by whom no works are known, he was born in Utrecht, where he studied under Balthasar van der Ast. In 1626 he moved to Leiden, practising as a painter of still life.
He moved in 1635 to Antwerp where, influenced by the example of Snyders and Rubens, he developed a grander form of still life, the pronkstilleven, which yet retained traces of Dutch intimacy. He frequently returned to the north and is recorded in 1649 in Utrecht where he was listed as a member of the guild between 1669 and 1672.
He died in Antwerp, one of the most accomplished of all Dutch still-life painters.