Herman Saftleven III was born in Rotterdam in 1609, the son of Herman Saftleven II and Lijntgen Cornehsdr. Moelants. His father was an art dealer and also, like his grandfather, worked as a painter. When Abraham enrolled in the Rotterdam Guild of St Luke on 12 June 1627, his brothers Herman Saftleven III and Cornelis, who were probably trained by their father, were presumably already listed as apprentices. In 1632 Herman Saftleven moved to Utrecht, where on 15 May of the following year he married Anna van Vliet, a daughter of the painter Pieter van Vliet. Of their children, only Sara Saftleven followed her father in an artistic career, specialising in flower painting. Saftleven belonged to the Remonstrants, and served as their dean in 1637. Thanks to this highly social congregation, he had important contacts. Only in 1654 did Saftleven attain citizenship in Utrecht for himself and his sons, and was listed as a master in the Guild of St Luke. There he repeatedly assumed the office of dean until 1681. A number of travels took him to spots in Germany: for example, he travelled along the Moselle and the Rhine as far as Basel, and a stay in Elberfeld is documented in 1667. Drawings he made on his travels served as a stock of motifs for his landscape paintings. After 1672, Saftleven followed the downfall of Utrecht as a chronicler. He died there, deeply in debt, and on 5 January 1685 was buried in the Buurkerk next to his wife, who had died three months before. Saftleven worked mainly as a painter. As in his etchings, produced between 1640 and roughly 1669, he specialised in landscapes, which in the 1630s reflected the influence of Abraham Bloemaert, Jan van Goyen, and Pieter de Molijn. Beginning in the 1640s at the latest, Italianising motifs displaced his naturalistic painting. In the 1650s he concentrated on small-format Rhineland landscapes with an abundance of small narrative details. Houbraken names Johannes Vorstermans and Jan van Bunnik as his pupils. In the documents, Willem van Bemmel is also named as a pupil.