Joannes de Ruyter was the eldest son of David de Ruyter (1580-1663), barrister of the High Court of Holland at the Hague and President of the Council of Brabant. He was born in the Hague in 1627 and enrolled as a law student at Leiden University in 1645. He went on to become the High Sheriff of the region of Oosterwijk, in the province of Brabant. He married Elisabeth Virien in 1660 and died in the Hague in 1678.
Ravesteyn completed the portrait of Joannes in 1632. This must have greatly impressed his parents as they commissioned portraits of themselves from the artist in 1639. The portrait of his father is now in the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the portrait of his mother was formerly in the collection of the New York Historical Society.