The son of a German sculptor, Johann Netscher (d. c. 1641), Caspar received his intial training in Arnhem, under Hendrik Coster, a still-life and portrait painter. In circa 1654 Netscher moved to Deventer, where he completed his training in the workshop of Gerard ter Borch (for whom see lot 553). A number of signed and, occasionally, dated copies by Netscher after Ter Borch survive from this period, such as the copy (1655; Gotha, Schloss Friedenstein) after Ter Borch's Parental Admonition (c. 1654; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum). Netscher's first independent compositions, for example a pair of small pendants Portrait of a man and Portrait of a woman (both 1656; Utrecht, Centraal Museum), were strongly influenced by Ter Borch.
Shortly after leaving Ter Borch's studio, Netscher moved to The Hague, where he joined the painters' society Pictura on 25 October 1662. During his early years in The Hague he painted mostly small genre scenes, for example the Chaff cutter with a woman spinning and a young boy (Philadelphia, Museum of Arts) and The Kitchen (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), however, after circa 1667 portraits gradually became Netscher's main interest, and the number of genre pieces decreased. In his portraits he followed the elegant, aristocratic court style of The Hague followers of Anthony van Dyck: Adriaen Hanneman, Jan Mijtens and Jan de Baen. However, Netscher's portraits tend, as with the present pair, to have the same small format as his genre pictures, and are set against backgrounds that include luxurious elements such as parks, fountains and sculptures. From the 1670s until his death Netscher was the most sought-after portrait painter in The Hague.
The male sitter is shown wearing a japonsche rock, a type of kimono that became fashionable in Holland during the last quarter of the seventeenth century, in response to ceremonial gifts of kimonos given to Dutch East India Company officers by the Japanese shoguns. Their desirability, as an item of prestige as much as of fashion, spread through Europe during the eighteenth century. A popular costume for portrait subjects, Frans Hals painted a sitter in a slightly earlier garment (see S. Slive, catalogue of the exhibition, Frans Hals, London, Royal Academy, 1989, pp. 358-360), and Pepys mentions his 'Indian gowne' hired for his portrait by John Hayls (London, National Portrait Gallery).