A contemporary and friend of Rembrandt, Lievens trained with the history painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam from 1617. In the later 1620s, he was closely associated with Rembrandt, when both were working in Lieden. Both artists, still young at the time, could well have shared a studio, and there was a strong mutual influence. Lievens travelled to England and lived in Antwerp from 1635 to 1653, where he was influenced by the work of Rubens and Van Dyck. He returned to Holland, living at The Hague and in Amsterdam. Towards the end of his career, he worked chiefly as a portrait painter as well as undertaking public commissions for large scale historical subjects.