Herman Saftleven was born in Rotterdam, and is thought to have studied under both his father and his elder brother Cornelis. Chiefly a painter and draughtsman, Saftleven was also a talented etcher and engraver. From 1633 he worked mainly in Utrecht, a city that featured repeatedly in his work. His early landscapes were somewhat Italianate, and largely influenced by the Arcadian scenes by contemporary Utrecht painters such as Cornelis van Poelenburgh and Abraham Bloemaert. By the 1640s, he appears to have been more interested in the scenery of his native land and surrounding areas. He made frequent trips along the Rhine and the Moselle where he sketched the landscape, striving for topographical accuracy. His work is characterised by a deceptive mixture of imaginary and real panoramas.