Baptised in Dordrecht on 24 June 1616, Ferdinand Bol was a son of the surgeon Bahhasar Bol and Tanneke Bols Fernandes. He presumably received his training in Dordrecht, since two of his earliest works are stylistically close to that city's painters Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp and Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp. In 1635 Bol signed a legal document that identifies him as a painter. In the second half of the 1630s he began working under Rembrandt in Amsterdam, and in 1640 he appeared as a witness for the older painter. There are signed and dated works by Bol beginning in 1642. Around that time he likely made himself independent in Amsterdam. He attained citizenship in 1652, which allowed him to participate in public commissions such as the decoration of the new city hall. In 1653 he married Elisabeth Dell, daughter of Elbert Dell, who occupied high posts in the Admiralty and the wine-dealers' guild, and Cornelia Spiegel, who came from a leading Amsterdam family. At that time Bol lived on the Fluwelenburgwal, in one of the wealthiest sections of the city. His son Elbert, who would later become a lawyer, was born in 1654. In 1655 Bol became the director of Amsterdam's Guild of St Luke, and in 1666 he was a sergeant in the citizens' militia. After the death of his first wife (1660), in 1669 he married Anna van Arckel, the well-to-do widow of the Admiralty treasurer Erasmus van Scharlaken. His last dated painting was produced in 1669, and no more works are attributed to him after that. In 1670 and 1680 he referred to himself as a dealer. In 1672 he rented a house on the Keizersgracht. From 1673 to his death he was one of the directors of the Oudezijds Huiszittenhuis, a poorhouse. His tax assessment of 1674 attests to his prosperity; his estate was larger than that of any other Amsterdam painter of the time. He was buried in Amsterdam on 24 July 1680. Roughly 200 paintings by Bol have survived. About a third of them are biblical or mythological histories or allegories. Among these are a number of wall-sized formats commissioned for the decoration of public spaces. The remaining works are portraits, of both single figures and groups, and 'tronies' (anonymous "faces"). A landscape and a still life also survive. Bol was active as an engraver and draughtsman as well. While he closely followed Rembrandt in the 1640s (at which point the great artist was at the height of his fame), he patterned himself after Flemish models in the 1650s in order to satisfy the desire of the Dutch citizenry for showier works, now that they had risen to lustre and affluence following the Peace of Westphalia. His pupils were Cornelis Bisschop (1630-1674) and Gottfried Kneller (1646-1723).