De Hooch was born in Rotterdam to Hendrick Hendricksz de Hooch, a bricklayer, and Annetge Pieters, a midwife. He was the eldest of five children and outlived all of his siblings. Little is known of his early life and most archival evidence suggests he worked in Rotterdam, Delft, and Amsterdam. According to his first biographer Arnold Houbraken, he studied art in Haarlem under the landscape painter Nicolaes Berchem at the same time as Jacob Ochtervelt and was known for his "kamergezichten" or "room-views" with ladies and gentlemen in conversation. But De Hoochs work seems to continue in the spirit of Hendrik Sorgh, an older Rotterdam painter who had a special affinity for organizing figures in interiors. Beginning in 1650, he worked as a painter and servant for a linen-merchant and art collector named Justus de la Grange in Rotterdam. His service for the merchant required him to accompany him on his travels to The Hague, Leiden, and Delft, to which he moved in 1652. It is likely that de Hooch handed over most of his works to la Grange during this period in exchange for board and other benefits, as this was a common commercial arrangement for painters at the time, and a later inventory recorded that la Grange possessed eleven of his paintings.