He was born in Amsterdam, probably in 1634, the son of Aert van der Neer. He studied with his father and with Jacob van Loo (1614-70) before making a trip to France where he remained some years as painter to Count van Dona, the Dutch Governor of Orange. He was back in Holland by 1659 living in Amsterdam and, by 1664, in Rotterdam. He continued to visit Amsterdam and The Hague, where he joined the painters' confraternity 'Pictura' in 1670. In 1679 he moved to Brussels, where he was appointed Court Painter to Charles II of Spain in 1687, though it seems he did not go to Spain.
In 1689 he was back in Amsterdam, but in the following year he moved to Dusseldorf to take up an appointment as court painter to the Elector Palatine, Johann Wilhelm. He is best known for his refined genre scenes, though he also painted some history subjects, portraits and landscapes. He died in Düsseldorf on 3 May 1703.