Baptised at Enkhuizen on 20 November 1625, son of the minor painter Pieter Potter (c.1600-52), under whom he first studied in Amsterdam, where the family had moved by 1631. He joined the guilds in Delft and The Hague in 1646 and 1649 respectively. In 1650 he married in The Hague the daughter of the city architect, and he received commissions from the widow of the Stadtholder, Prince Frederik Hendrik, although in 1651 he was sued by the court for failing to deliver paintings.
In May 1652 he moved to Amsterdam, where he painted an exceptional and celebrated equestrian portrait of Dirck Tulp (Six collection). He died soon after of tuberculosis and was buried in Amsterdam on 7 January 1654. His portrait by van der Helst (Mauritshuis) is dated 1654. He specialised in small, carefully studied animal subjects, although his best known work, the Young Bull of 1647 in the Mauritshuis, is life-size.