This eminent painter was born in 1631. His father intended him for the mercantile profession, but nature for a marine painter. His passion for art induced him to neglect his employer's business, with whom his father had placed him, and to spend his time in drawing, and in frequenting the studios of the painters at Amsterdam. His fondness for shipping led him frequently to the port of the city, where he made admirable drawings of the vessels with a pen, which were much sought after by the collectors, and were purchased at liberal prices. Several of his drawings were sold at 100 florins each. This success induced him to paint marine subjects. His first essays were successful, and his pictures universally admired. While painting, he would not admit his most intimate friends to his studio, lest his fancy might be disturbed. He hired fishermen to take him out to sea in the most tremendous gales, and on landing, he would run impatiently to his palette to secure the grand impressions of the views he had just witnessed. He has represented that element in its most terrible agitation, with a fidelity that intimidates the beholder. His pictures on these subjects have raised his reputation even higher than that of W. van de Velde; although the works of the later, which represent the sea at rest, or in light breezes, are much superior, and indeed inimitable. His pictures are distinguished for their admirable perspective, correct drawing, neatness and freedom of touch, and remarkable facility of execution. For the burgomasters of Amsterdam, he painted a large picture with a multitude of vessels, and a view of the city in the distance; for which they gave him 1,300 guilders, and a handsome present. This picture was presented to the King of France, who placed it in the Louvre. The King of Prussia visited Backhuysen, and the Czar Peter took delight in seeing him paint, and often endeavored to make drawings after vessels which the artist had designed.