Dutch painter, draughtsman and printmaker. Called his birthplace "van Haarlem", but received thanks to his talent nickname "Teocrito painting."
Created mainly embellished the types of Italian nature in the conventional silver daytime or sunset light with graceful pastoral scenes. The few known portraits and paintings on allegorical and mythological subjects. Wrote the figures in the paintings of J. van nasdala, J. Hakkert, and other Dutch landscape painters. The works of Berchem, who created many paintings (about 800) and drawings, a huge market demand.
Berchem was born in Haarlem in the family of painter Peter Klas, in the early 1620s, moved to Haarlem from Berchem near Antwerp. Creative way Nicolas started at the age of 14, but his first teacher was his father, specializing in the writing of still-lifes, we don't know a still life of brush Berchem. Later, Nicholas was trained in the workshop of Jan van Goyen and then took the name "Berchem". Then the young artist studying in Amsterdam Nicholas Muhurta, writing mostly stories from the Scriptures and Arcadian landscapes with animals. May choose a mentor from Amsterdam was due to the death of the mother of Nicholas in 1634 and secondary marriage of his father a year later. Influence Muhurta evident in the depiction of animals in the early work of Berchem "Jacob at the fountain." Until the end of the 1630s Nicolas has replaced several teachers: Peter Grebber, Jan Willis, and Jan Baptist Feniksa (which Berchem called cousin).
From 1642 Berchem (as Claes was Peterson) is a member of the Haarlem Guild of St Luke. His students appear. Berchem seeking fame, making prints, distributed by publishers and booksellers Haarlem and Amsterdam. In a series of etchings depicting cows (1644) is still visible style Maharta. In 1645, the artist joins the Dutch reformed Church. Witness it in this entry was Jan VILS, which, probably, Berchem lived together in that period.
Traditionally, Berchem finally emerged as an artist after the Commission together with Venicom trip to Italy in the 1640s (although some researchers dispute the fact of his travel in the country, which gave him the inspiration to further creativity). After this trip, is typical of the painter became written in warm colours, the views of Italy, often populated by mythological or biblical characters. Works of this genre were very much in fashion in Holland. In addition, Berchem wrote the cityscapes and winter and pastoral scenes in the tradition of Dutch naturalism, allegorical and genre paintings. On his return from Italy, Berchem in 1646 he married Katherine Klas de Groot, the daughter of John Willis. Berchem absolutely obeyed his wife, the woman of evil, capricious, highly stingy and greedy. Whole days and nights she kept him at work and sold his works at their discretion. Some pictures she's even sold in advance.
The couple had at least four children: two sons and two daughters. One of the sons, Nicholas, also became a painter (of Nicolaes Berchem the Younger).
Little by little, the artist came to prominence. In 1647 he was regarded as one of the candidates to work for the construction of the Royal Palace Huis ten Bosch. However, in the end the order got other, more eminent masters of the time. But in Berchem chosen the genre of pastoral landscape to him, few people in Holland can compete.
About 1650 Berchem travelled to Westphalia with Jacob van Rasdale. I suppose that after that he again went to Italy, where he worked in 1651-1653. and along with Jan Bot has become one of the prominent representatives of the Italian trend in the Dutch landscape painting of the XVII century, Back in Harlem, artist in 1656 bought a house with a garden. He became Dean of the Guild, and two years later was awarded the title of master. On his initiative, the Guild introduced a tradition: every artist is leaving the city had to submit one of his pictures for the decoration of the hall of the Guild. The first example he gave Berchem, who in 1660 went to Amsterdam, where the cartographer Nicolas Visscher drew him to making a new Atlas.
Cooperation with Visscher Berchem continued throughout the first half of the 60-ies of the XVII century In Amsterdam and Berchem lived for over ten years, returning to Haarlem only in the spring of 1670, But in 1677 the artist newly moved to Amsterdam now, and forever. The master continues to paint landscapes, portraits, depicts imaginary persons and animals.
Berchem died in 1683 and was buried in the Westerkerk. His paintings and drawings was sold a little later in the same year.